MTA launch event, 2017-03-25

The RRS was pleased to host a launch event at our Mojave Test Area (MTA) for the Girls Academic Leadership Academy (GALA) of L.A. USD on Saturday, March 25, 2017. The event had an excellent turnout.

GALA at the MTA, panorama

GALA students on the MTA observation deck

Longtime member Dave Crisalli was our pyro-op for the event and I was able to serve as his assistant in conducting the launch of twelve alphas and a beta rocket.

Dave Crisalli

Osvaldo and Dave

If anyone else has photos of the event that they’d like to share, please email me:

Before we got started, we had a safety briefing showing how launch will take place and what to do before, during and after firing. To give an appreciation for the propellants commonly used in amateur rocketry, at a safe distance, we burned a sample of the micrograin.

John Mariano addresses the group

sample micrograin propellant burning

And a composite grain that Larry made for the demonstration

composite grain, before and after

AP composite grain, sample burn

We had 12 alphas and 1 beta for launch. GALA did a great job in painting their rockets. The bright colors not only distinguished one from the other, but they also made finding them downrange by their tailfins in the desert much easier to do. GALA also was wise to number their rockets. We took good notes on the flight times of each (35-38 seconds which is typical). With the wind noise, it wasn’t always possible to hear the faint thump. GALA did well in keeping quiet after launch to hear the thump and figure the direction where it was heard.

GALA rockets ready for launch

alpha launch rails facing out to the gate

GALA ready for launch

alpha launch 03-25-2017

Osvaldo equipped the last of the 12 alphas (all the way to the right in the photo below) with another fin-mounted keychain camera similar to what was done at the November 2016 launch event. Alas, it was not to be, the camera was destroyed and no footage was captured.

12 alphas laying in the rack

The beta was without payload except for the wooden adapter and a plastic Easter egg half as a nose cone. A buzzer and a strobe device was mounted to the beta fins in hopes to be better able to locate the vehicle in the search. Unfortunately, the beta, too was lost. No sound of impact was heard.

alphas and a beta (upside down)

Loading the beta into the rack

RRS beta launch 2017-03-25

Dr. Mitchell Spearrin of UCLA came by the event to tour the MTA as the RRS looks forward to working UCLA on their upcoming projects. Dr. Spearrin brought an Estes Ascender model rocket of his own to test at the MTA with a commercial F-motor. At the end of the GALA rockets, the model rocket was launched. I didn’t get any photos. I believe the winds carried the light rocket pretty far east of the MTA site. I understand that the rocket wasn’t able to be recovered.

Estes Ascender

Several of the alpha rockets launched by GALA were able to be recovered through hard work and sweat. I think of the 12 launches, 7 were recovered? An excellent job by the GALA team in finding and recovering a lot of the hardware.

GALA recovers an alpha

GALA alpha extracted

The RRS wants to thank GALA for their participation and hope they enjoyed the day as we did! We hope to have GALA come back for another event. Also, many thanks to Don Purpurra for contributing his photos of the event. The shots of the alphas and betas he took were incredible!
GALA Academy

If any other schools or groups are interested in participating in one of our build events, please contact our events coordinator, Larry Hoffing:

blockhouse view with the launch button gear

Our next RRS meeting will be Friday, April 14, 2017, at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena, CA. This will be the last meeting before the RRS symposium which will be held Saturday, April 22nd at the same meeting location in Gardena. We encourage all of our participants to come by the Friday, April 14th meeting in advance of the symposium.

There will be speakers and an exhibition hall with universities and groups from government and private companies in attendance.

the latest RRS symposium flyer

Our latest flyer is linked here for download. Please share and post!
rrs symposium flyer 320

We also have tickets to the symposium being offered through an Eventbrite link given below. The event is free. We encourage everyone who’s interested in coming to sign up as this helps us get a better idea of how many people are coming.
Eventbrite – RRS symposium (free to register)

If I missed anything or if anything is misstated, please contact me:

March 2017 meeting

We started the March 10th monthly meeting a bit late, 7:51pm. As usual, we met in Gardena at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center.

The first item was to discuss the progress of the upcoming RRS symposium to be held Saturday, April 22nd. We have confirmed several speakers and exhibitors including UCLA, USC, Caltech, CSULB, Cal Poly Pomona, Orbital-ATK, Norton Sales, Spaceport America, Mars City Design and the Aerospace Corporation. We still have a few speakers yet to confirm, but we will have a full listing which will be great for our public audience. We encourage everyone to download and share this flyer with everyone who would like to come out to the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena.

rrs symposium flyer 3 rev 1

Osvaldo surprised us all by completing the full-scale mockup of the SuperDosa boosted dart vehicle. The SuperDosa project is the RRS’s recent project to retake the amateur rocketry altitude record and rebuild many of our old capabilities from 20 years ago when the RRS held the record. This will be on display along with RRS standard alpha and beta rockets at the exhibitor hall during the symposium on April 22nd.

SuperDosa full scale mockup(1)

SuperDosa-mockup (2)

Although we’ve been having weekly teleconferences, the meeting offered the opportunity to discuss issues and address questions by all of those in attendance. Dr. Chris Zeineh of the Aerospace Corporation and four students from UCLA’s liquid bi-prop rocket team were in attendance. Frank had printed a few flyers and some of the brochures we plan to have at the symposium.

Our public relations campaign to advertise the RRS symposium is in full gear as we’re trying to get radio and TV spots in the local media market.

Frank also made an Eventbrite posting for the RRS symposium. It’s a free event so there’s no cost to register. Registering allows the RRS to gauge how big our audience might be. We’ll try to have food available at this event. I encourage everyone to register for the symposiuim at this event at the link below.

Eventbrite – RRS symposium (free to register)

John Mariano is working with his contacts at JPL to try to see if we can have the Explorer 1 satellite mockup on display as a really neat piece of space exploration history as this was the United States’ first satellite launched over 50 years ago. We hope we can bring that piece of history to the exhibition.

The Explorer 1 satellite (van Allen, Pickering, von Braun are holding it up)

The RRS has updated our Facebook page to get the word out. The link is below. Our members who are on Facebook should join this group. Anyone else is also welcome to join our Facebook page.

RRS Facebook page

The RRS will create an Instagram account soon which may make viewing our launch event photos and videos much easier. I plan to do this sometime before the next meeting in April.

The weekly teleconferences will continue in the ensuing weeks as we are less than 6 weeks out from the event, but looking to be in good shape. We hope to confirm more speakers and exhibitors very soon.

In other non-symposium related news, the RRS history project is progressing. I made contact with the Caltech Library to acquire electronic copies of three Astro-Jet newsletters from 1945 and 1946 which is when the RRS was known as the “Glendale Rocket Society”. We hope to get these and any other Astro-Jet newsletters added to our library archives soon.

Also, Richard Garcia acquired a nice Marotta solenoid valve from Norton Sales which could come in handy for future projects. The RRS still has plans to build a liquid propellant testing rig in the future.

solenoid valve, Marrotta

Norton Sales – North Hollywood, CA

I am also steadily working on making a simple thrust stand for firing alpha and beta rockets in the near future using the load cell kindly provided by our friends at Interface Force in Arizona.

Interface Force – Load Cells and more

We have rescheduled the March 18th launch event to a week later, March 25th. The girls academic leadership academy (GALA) will be launching four alphas. Larry and I may have another alpha or a beta for this event. We have invited UCLA to attend the launch to show them the Mojave Test Area (MTA) in advance of the two events they will be having with us.

UCLA has confirmed that they would like to conduct a hot-fire test series at the MTA for their IREC rocket systems on April 29th. There will be hybrid and solid motors tests. We also hope to have a few other people conduct launches or hot-firings.

Also, on June 3rd, UCLA will have a launch event at the RRS MTA to conclude the undergraduate class featuring two RRS standard alphas and two RRS standard betas and a set of ten smaller model rockets.

Lastly, USC had a very successful launch of their Fathom II rocket at Spaceport America last week. I invited USC to come and share in their results, but they are still compiling a posting for their website (link below). Also, this Friday they were properly celebrating their success. We hope to read their results soon. Also they have posted photos on their Instagram feed.

USC RPL website

USC RPL – Instagram feed

Our next meeting will be Friday, April 14th. This will be the last one before the symposium (April 22nd). I encourage all of our presenters and exhibitors to come out for this meeting to give you the opportunity to review the space and ask any last minute questions beforehand. Frank Miuccio and I are available anytime to answer questions by phone or email, but sometimes it’s best to walk the space in person.

Let me know if I missed anything or if anything posted here needs correction.

February 2017 meeting

Despite the rain, we had a good attendance at the February meeting on Friday, the 10th. We came to order at 7:51pm.

Chris Lujan said that he’d put together some notes for a future posting on sugar rockets since he has had some experience with a classic in amateur rocketry. Look for that in the coming months.

Larry Hoffing and John Mariano have started an alpha rocket build event with GALA starting this month. The USC RPL will be assisting in the instruction and the event should culminate in the launch event at the MTA on March 25th (** updated **).

Girls Academic Leadership Academy, LA USD

Vera Mulyani who was on travel called into the meeting to give her presentation on Mars City Design. USC hosted a very successful 2016 GALA event that included Buzz Aldrin as a speaker. She’s been working to solicit donors to help start prototype building of some of the first 3-D printed concrete structures. There will be a fundraising dinner on May 25th as a benefit to the organization.

Ultimately, the RRS will house a few of these exotic 3-D printed structures at our MTA site that will give us a cool extra shelter or two. According to the regolith samples taken by the Mars City teem on their site tour, the dry lake bed environment regolith materials of the RRS MTA site should work very well.

Mars City Design

After Vera’s presentation, we discussed more of the RRS Symposium. An idea was put forth to consider having a small static fire demonstration at the RRS symposium event with Steve Majdali. Possibly a black powder or sugar rocket? Still considering the details of how we could do this which certainly involves getting approval for the nearby fire station.

Also, we’ll need to get to work on the full scale mockup of the SuperDosa rocket. Osvaldo can make most if not all of the pieces, but maybe we’ll need help in getting everything ready before the symposium.

Just to re-iterate, the symposium date is hard set to be April 22nd at our same meeting location at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center (formerly called the Gardena Community Center) in Gardena, CA. One of the flyer designs we’re starting to pass around is linked below. Please download, share and post with anyone interested in coming. We’d like to start spreading the word.

rrs symposium flyer 5

As of this month’s meeting, the RRS will formally begin the history project as we are one year before our 75th anniversary. We plan to interview some of our older and current members at the symposium or in separate private interviews to recall and document whatever they can of their experiences with the RRS over the seven and a half decades of our society’s history. Our upcoming symposium will be a good opportunity for members new and past to get together. We’ll also use this opportunity to interview some and at least update contact information for members who would like to meet with us later.

Richard Garcia has been in discussions with an owner of a set of propellant tanks and a vertical test stand. The owner may consider donating a substantial amount of hardware to the RRS.

The RRS has agreed to support UCLA in an undergraduate design class (MAE 157A) by supplying some of our standard alpha and beta rockets. I have invited UCLA to come take a tour of the MTA at the next launch on March 25th. The launch event for this class with UCLA is tenatively scheduled for Saturday, June 3rd, once we can confirm this date.

Richard Garcia and myself were invited to UCLA’s Critical Design Review on Saturday, February 11th for their hybrid rocket project at the next IREC launch in June. We were also invited to a Conceptual Design Review (CoDR) on March 1st for the Tin Can project (liquid bi-prop rocket competition) at the FAR site.

We’ve been having weekly teleconferences for the symposium to help track assignments and note progress. The symposium is picking up a lot of momentum as we have confirmed several speakers from private industry and universities. We still need a lot of help from our members and others who would like to support the RRS.

Our meeting adjourned as the Ken Nakaoka Community Center closed at 9:00pm.

If there is anything I missed or misstated, please let me know.

Our next meeting will be Friday, March 10th.