The California State Fire Marshal’s (CSFM) office held a sub-committee meeting to discuss potential changes to the definitions in the state laws concerning amateur rocketry. This meeting on Friday, 2/21/2020, at the CSFM offices in Monrovia was the second of two meetings held between CSFM and amateur rocketry representatives to informally discuss and review ideas for improvements. The laws had several ambiguities and areas for improvement which would better reflect the needs of our growing amateur rocketry community and provide for clarity and safety at all points.
The RRS was glad to host Ramiro Rodriguez, the state fire marshal of the local Hollywood office last year both at our February 2019 meeting and later as a speaker at the 2019 RRS symposium in April. The RRS and representatives from the Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR) and the Rocketry Organization of California (ROC) had met several times over the last calendar year leading to a consensus opinion on a few areas that would be presented to CSFM for consideration. Many of the ideas were with regards to fees, transportation issues and the different licensing classes of pyrotechnic operators for rocketry.
The RRS, FAR and ROC were glad to have the opportunity to speak frankly and give the state reasonable ideas that would preserve the freedoms in our hobby while keeping only responsible measures for assuring public safety as is required by CSFM.
CSFM will report their findings back to the home office in Sacramento and begin to discuss the next steps to amend the legislation governing amateur rocketry. We hope to hear more in the coming months as several of our ideas were accepted.
The Reaction Research Society (RRS) met for our monthly meeting on March 8, 2019, at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena, CA. The RRS was glad to welcome our newest associate member, Jaren Li. After our reading of the treasury report, we began the agenda.
 Preparing for the RRS symposium, Saturday, April 27, 2019
The first topic was the status of the forthcoming 2019 RRS symposium. This will be an all-day event, Saturday, April 27, 2019. Frank Miuccio, our symposium coordinator, was happy to report we have confirmed Cal Poly Pomona and Northrop Grumman as attendees. With nearly 200 Event-brite tickets sold already, we have 20 exhibitors and nearly a full roster of speakers throughout this all-day event.
The RRS will need the help of our membership for setting up on the night before. Also, we expect a good crowd on Saturday and we’ll need our membership again to help support the number of activities going on behind the scenes. The executive council will be contacting our members to enlist their support for specific tasks in the next few weeks. The one thing that everyone can do is spread the word and share our flyers with those interested in coming.
 Improvements to the RRS social media presence
This is to be a regular agenda topic to be led by our two media officers, Bill Janczewski and Alastair Martin. In their absence, the society discussed a few common sense things that will be helpful. Including links in our Instagram and Facebook postings back to the RRS.ORG website should help bring more people to read about us. Also, the RRS should track the number of hits our sites are getting as a way of measuring improvement.
Alastair Martin held the second podcast for “Rocket Talk Radio” at his Hollywood studio. Richard Garcia and I both were pleased to be guests on his show as we talked about the timely subject of Small Launchers. There’s been a lot of recent activity in this area with new businesses such as RocketLab, Vector Space Systems, Relativity Space and Firefly Aerospace entering the market. This project is through Alastair’s company, Production Tribe LLC. You can find Alastair’s podcast at his website at Watch Hollywood -dot- TV:
Frank Miuccio attended a seminar at the University of Southern California (USC) early this month on leadership of non-profit groups. He said he got a lot of practical advise and suggestions for improvement. He did not have his findings summarized for the March meeting, but he can elaborate on his experiences at the USC seminar at the next meeting.
 RRS Mission Statement
A mission statement is a short statement of purpose to describe why an organization exists. After reviewing a few drafts, the society decided to use statements made in our articles of incorporation, but it has not been posted on our website until now. The RRS mission statement can be found near the “Donate” button on the main toolbar of the RRS.ORG website.
 RRS Website Articles and Publication Guidelines
It was suggested that RRS ought to publish a set of guidelines for new members and contributors to the RRS.ORG website. The society encourages all of our membership to do more than simply discuss their ideas, but to put them down into writing for the wider audience to see. Our society is one of builders, thinkers and experimenters. We have a long legacy of past articles, but what is equally important is that we continue to contribute to our growing body of knowledge.
The initial set of publication guidelines for website articles was sent to our society membership a couple weeks ago. Although I have not received any formal feedback, the society decided at the March 2019 meeting that those initial publication guidelines will be published both on the RRS.ORG website and on our Facebook page. The society reserves the right to edit and holds the sole discretion to publish articles or not. However, at this time, the RRS is very interested in what kinds of things our membership would like to hear about. More importantly, the society would like our membership to contribute an article.
 Loyola Marymount University base11 Liquid Rocket Competition
The RRS has been working with Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in Westchester, CA, providing them with guidance on their liquid rocket vehicle design that will ultimately compete in the base11 Space Challenge. A few members of the LMU team were in attendance at the March 2019 meeting of the RRS. The goal of the competition is to be the first university group to fly a liquid rocket to an altitude of 100 km for a prize of $1,000,000 USD. A link to the base11 home page is below.
The LMU team are very busy assembling their Preliminary Design Review (PDR) submitted presentation which is due in the next few weeks. They were able to ask questions of the society members present on details relevant to their liquid rocket.
Per our charter to support academic groups and our membership, the RRS has supported other liquid rocket competitors in this competition including University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Many of the participants in these competitions later become members of the RRS as it is a very exciting thing to build a rocket of your own.
 The LR101 Project with Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum
RRS members, Wilbur Owens, Xavier Marshall and myself (Dave Nordling) have joined a project hence known as the “LR101 project”. This project is in coordination with Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum (TAM) at the Compton Airport in Compton, CA. This project team also includes students at Compton High School and at the local Compton College.
The short term goal is to build a suitable static test setup to hot-fire an LR101 vernier motor at the RRS Mojave Test Area (MTA). A link to the Heroic Relics website is below for more details on this small auxiliary rocket motor used in both the prior generation of Atlas and Delta vehicles. This small legacy rocket has been the core of a few liquid rocket projects in the past including at least one at the RRS.
The primary goal of this project is to renew and expand the RRS presence in liquid rocket testing. The team is working out the basic sizing and requirements at this stage. Later this summer, the RRS members on the TAM team can provide an update.
[X1] Update on the RRS Educational Events
Frank, Larry and Osvaldo gave an update on the latest educational event that the RRS started with Compton Elementary on March 8th. The program is well underway and they plan to finish with a scheduled launch event at the MTA on April 6th. The program, known as “Rockets in the Projects” is in partnership with the LAPD Community Safety Partnership (CSP). This partnership has been very successful in the year and half it has been in operation having had over 100 students and counting participating in the project. Not only does the society get the chance to give back to younger students, but also a chance to inspire younger people to be active in rocketry and science as they grow older.
[X2] Rocket Statue On Display at the 2019 RRS Symposium
The RRS events coordinator, Larry Hoffing, raised a question about the Rocket Statue designed by our society director of research, Richard Garcia. Although this statue was designed to be a permanent fixture inside the main gate at the RRS MTA, Larry had asked if a model could be assembled in time to have it on display at the Ken Nakaoka community Center when we hold the symposium on April 27, 2019.
Based on available resources and time, it seems unlikely to happen, but the RRS has managed to do great things in a short amount of time before. We shall see…
[X3] Cal Poly Pomona visit to the RRS
As a last minute addition to the agenda, James McPherson of Cal Poly Pomona made a short presentation to the society. James is the leader of the solid rocket team for the FAR1030 competition. The RRS has had a lot of experience in helping university groups with many aspect of solid motor design and build at the MTA. James had outlined a plan for their motor construction and the RRS was glad to review it. We did not have sufficient time at the March meeting to discuss Cal Poly Pomona’s project in detail, but we hope they can come back for the April meeting.
Our next meeting will be Friday, April 12, 2019, at 7:30pm at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena. We’ll certainly be talking more about the symposium as it will be happening just two weeks later on April 27th. We also expect to have a summary from the next launch event at the MTA on April 6th.
If there are any questions or corrections, please contact the RRS secretary.
The RRS had a small event at our private Mojave Test Area (MTA) on August 18, 2018, to allow Richard Garcia to test his liquid rocket motor. Richard built a pressure-fed, 1000-lbf kerosene-LOX motor including all of the static fire test stand equipment and control valves.
desert morning at the MTA
Richard Garcia reviews his list in the MTA blockhouse
Switch panel and electrical cabling
Richard had spent a good part of Friday and early Saturday getting his test stand mounted and ready. He had made arrangements to share the contents of a liquid oxygen dewar to supply the oxidizer he needed for his test with other RRS member, Sam Austin. Sam was also preparing to fire his liquid rocket motor at the Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR) site just south of the RRS MTA on this same day. Arriving early in the morning, I was glad to help Richard with the final preparations at the RRS MTA to start the initial checkouts and ultimately a successful hot-fire test.
Richard checks the wiring and pneumatic line connections
Richard’s 1000 lbf kerosene/LOX motor was designed for a chamber pressure of 300 psig and used a pintle-type of injector with an ablative lined chamber and graphite nozzle.
Richard Garcia tests both flow paths of his pintle injector in water flow
Ablative liner, G10, sits inside the combustion chamber of Richard Garcia’s 1000 lbf kerosene-LOX liquid rocket motor
Graphite nozzle within the chamber assembly of 1000 lbf kerosene-LOX motor
He brought his motor hardware to the January 2018 meeting, but now it was finally time to prove his design with a hot-fire test.
Richard shows his liquid rocket motor at the January 2018 meeting
Richard’s test used a high pressure nitrogen bottle to pressurize his propellant tanks, the left one for liquid oxygen (LOX) and the right one for kerosene. This regulated inert gas source also provided pneumatic pressure for the propellant valve actuators.
Richard’s static fire tanks and equipment mounted and ready for test, 2018-08-18
The top half of the thrust stand with the tanks and valves is fixed to the structure. The engine is suspended below and is secured to a plate which was mounted to an S-type load cell. These devices are an affordable means of measuring both compressive and tensile forces by the internal strain gauges built into them.
An S-type load cell used for thrust measurements in the static fire equipment
Caution was taken to keep the motor clean during handling and installation by caps on the ports and closing off the nozzle with aluminum foil.
View of Richard’s 1000-lbf motor from below; aluminum foil covering the nozzle exit to prevent foreign object debris (FOD) in the injector
With the validation testing complete and all valves are working, fuel was loaded, then preparations to load the cryogenic liquid oxygen (photo courtesy of Rick Maschek of FAR)
Careful review of the firing procedure before getting down to testing
Preparing for LOX transfer (photo courtesy of Rick Maschek of FAR)
All propellants loaded, everyone in the blockhouse, running the final checks before starting the countdown (photo courtesy of Rick Maschek of FAR)
The view from the blockhouse, a nice clean start of the liquid motor (photo courtesy of Rick Maschek of FAR)
Another view of the rocket firing from Richard’s tripod-mounted camera, 2018-08-18
A few seconds later with the dust kicking up from the motor firing, 2018-08-18
Closeup view of the rocket firing from a small mounted camera; it blew over from the firing but capture this image
Most of the testing seemed to work well. The motor had a clean start and stable run time for the full 5 seconds duration that Richard had predicted. Post-test inspection showed the engine to be in very good condition.
A view from up the nozzle after hot-fire; all looks good
Surface of the 1-inch thick steel plate was melted from the impinging plume; perhaps we’ll mount the next engine a bit higher
Tank pressure measurements were able to be recorded, however the thrust and chamber pressure (Pc) measurements were corrupted. Richard is working on downloading the hot-fire video to be posted on the RRS YouTube channel.
Soon he’ll disassemble the injector and chamber to see if the motor can be fired again. This was a great success for the RRS and we hope this to be the start of several liquid motor hot-fire tests as the RRS continues to improve on this powerful type of rocket.
Richard Garcia stands next to his 1000-lbf kerosene-LOX liquid rocket motor at the RRS MTA, 2018-08-18
I hope that Richard will be able to present his results at the next RRS monthly meeting on the 2nd Friday of the month. The next RRS meeting will be Friday, September 14, 2018 at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena, California.
The RRS would also like to thank Mark Holthaus and Rick Maschek of FAR for their assistance on this test.