July 2017 meeting

The RRS held its monthly meeting last night on July 14, 2017 at our usual spot at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena, CA. We got started a little late, but we covered all of our agenda items.

We have two new members, Drew Cortopassi and Alastair Martin, joining the RRS. Both were in attendance at the meeting and we were glad to have them join us.

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Larry gave us an update on the RRS alpha build event we’re doing with the students of Jordan Downs in Watts. John Mariano gave his presentation last week and Larry has started the build event portion. This event has been sponsored by the Los Angeles Police Department’s Community Safety Partnership (CSP) which will be bringing a lot of talented kids from the inner city of Los Angeles. Local television crews filmed the event and the final day of painting of the student rockets is happening today. We hope to have the video spot on our YouTube channel very soon.

Jordan Downs build event with the RRS

LAPD CSP – About Us page

The students from Jordan Downs will launch 10 alpha rockets with one more alpha launched by LAPD. It will be a great day next Saturday, July 22nd, at the MTA.

Jordan Downs alpha rockets painted and ready

To any school or private group that would like to conduct a rocket build event with the RRS, please contact us at:
events@rrs.org

I will be launching an alpha of my own at the event with a PVC payload section. Our director of research, Richard Garcia, and RRS treasurer, Chris Lujan, were helping me with some payload issues I’m resolving.

Dave Crisalli has also been working with students at the Chaminade College Preparatory School in Chatsworth, CA. They have built a solid rocket motor to test at the MTA on the July 22nd event. Dave was a graduate of Chaminade and has been our pyro-op on many MTA launch events.

Chaminade College Preparatory School

Our discussion moved to the details of managing the upcoming launch event at our Mojave Test Area (MTA) on next Saturday, July 22nd. This is a private event, but we host these with many students, universities and private individuals with our membership.

We had discussed how the launches should be conducted as early as possible to avoid what will likely be an oppressively hot summer day for our young students. All of our invited attendees should make an extra effort to be at the MTA by 10:00AM, which means leaving the city before 7:00AM. There were also concerns related to safety once we get into launch mode. Once the safety briefing is conducted (likely around 11:00AM) and all people are moved into the observation bunker, the roads will be closed to traffic. No one will be allowed in or out until the last volley is fired as is our policy.

Attendees at the MTA are recommended to wear hats and sunscreen at all times. Bring as much ice and water as you can. And most importantly…drink this water and fluids as often as possible. Many people don’t know they have become dehydrated until after the ill-effects set in (then its too late). Drink often even if you don’t feel like it.

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I gave a short update on the SuperDosa project. We have decided to build a ballistic evaluation motor (BEM) to have the ability to conduct propellant evaluation tests. There are a few different approaches to getting accurate burn rate data, but I felt that the BEM approach would be the most beneficial despite the added complexity. Osvaldo has the plate and round stock I bought for this small but tough little test rig. Richard Garcia is working on the dust recovery and ducting to restart his graphite machining capabilities. I hope to get a few nozzle pucks made and hopefully begin testing this fall.

RRS ballistic evaluation motor design concept

More work in trajectory and performance modelling needs to be done. The details on the initial SuperDosa design are still a bit in flux. Neither Richard nor I had any progress to report on this front.

The discussion moved to propellant procurement. We are looking at acquiring some AP oxidizer which shouldn’t be a problem. The HTPB binder chemical, however, has really climbed up in cost. PBAN is another option we’re considering. Someone mentioned asphalt was used in the early days, but it’s not clear what the disadvantages are.

We had briefly discussed making rocket candy just for the initial samples to test and qualify the BEM test rig. It was decided that Chris Lujan would cook a small batch of sugar/KNO3 at the MTA and pour into some 3/4″ PVC sample cases. I hope to be able to document the process and present this in a report. This is a common mixture, but the purpose is to help more people become better at this task. Many of our members have experience in making the rocket candy mixture, but it helps to standardize the process and always watch out for safety issues.

MIT student, Sean Austin, was in attendance at the meeting. He had mentioned his university lab had built a strand-burner to test propellant samples. They had a lot of issues getting reliable test results, but he was happy to share their design with the RRS. A strand burner design is simpler to make and if the RRS has the right materials and tools, we may build a strand burner to supplement our BEM.

Richard Nakka’s rocketry page has a lot of great details on this subject of solid propellant burn rate testing methods and data collection.

strand burner
Nakka – strand burner test rig

ballistic evaluation motor
Nakka – BEM concept illustration

solid propellant, burn rate testing, in general
Nakka – burn rate testing in general

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Four members from the UCLA IREC team came to present their results from this year’s competition at Spaceport America north of Las Cruces, New Mexico. The rocket launch competition is supported by universities across the country and the event is managed by the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association (ESRA).
2017 IREC competition – Spaceport America

I had asked UCLA to come show us the fruits of their team’s hard work done at the RRS MTA. UCLA had some issues resolved, but ran into other problems at the launch site. Heat was a factor which resulted in the payload computers not working. A great deal was learned and UCLA will surely leverage these lessons into next year’s build.

UCLA presents IREC results to the RRS

UCLA presents IREC results to the RRS

The RRS would like to thank UCLA students, Nakul Gupta, Caleb Lessard, Edward Shen and Nick Knenning for presenting. The RRS looks forward to continuing our support of UCLA and other universities as they advance their rocket projects.

The UCLA Rocket Project will conduct more cold flow testing of their liquid rocket systems at the RRS MTA at the July 22nd event, but priority will be given to the student alpha launches to conduct the events as early in the day to avoid the hottest hours at the site.

Also, in attendance at the meeting was MIT student, Sam Austin. Sam is in Los Angeles this summer on an internship with Northrop Grumman. Sam was part of the MIT team at the IREC competition and related some of his team’s results. MIT did well taking 2nd place, but as always, there are new things to learn or things to do better. Sam had indicated interest in attending the upcoming launch at the MTA. We hope he’ll become a student member of the RRS to do so.

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The RRS history project continues as our current membership has been reaching out to our founders and other members from the earliest days of the society. We hope to share some of this with our readers and members very soon. Frank had found another set of RRS newsletters from 1989-1991 which he gave to Richard Garcia, our director of research, for scanning and archiving.

As always, if anyone has any RRS or related literature that they would like to offer to be scanned for the society, please let Richard know:
research@rrs.org

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I had presented the general topic of how to generate more revenue for the society. The RRS is funded by our membership in the form of dues, donated time to support events, monetary and material donations and such. I wanted to solicit ideas about how the RRS can pursue other avenues to bring in more funds to better support the programs we have and the new programs we hope to do soon.

One classic idea is to produce RRS-logo branded things like T-shirts, coffee cups, even metal rulers. I have seen older RRS branded items in the past and although the profit margins can be thin, it’s a fine fund-raising idea to consider. John Mariano had a few other ideas for fund-raising he brought up in a previous meeting this year.

The RRS is looking at grant programs both in the private sector and with government agencies. The RRS is a 501(c)3 educational non-profit group which has had success with several schools already and we intend to expand our outreach as we find schools and organizations able to help us bring the joy of rocketry. Donations from private companies and individuals is another avenue we’ll pursue. If anyone has any specific programs or ideas in mind, please contact the RRS vice president, Frank Miuccio.
vicepresident@rrs.org

One idea I had which was accepted was to publish an issue of the RRS Astrojet newsletter on our 75th anniversary on January 7, 2018. Although the RRS has not published a paper newsletter in quite some time, it was a popular item in its day. The newsletter would be the same 12 page format used throughout our history with articles from many of our members including George James, George Dosa and others as we bring this idea home. The 75th anniversary Astrojet newsletter will only be available in print and delivered by mail for a nominal price ($10?) to help fund the RRS’s growing activities.

Another idea put forth was to attempt the rocket mail flights done in the early days of the society. More thought and discussion would be necessary to see how feasible this would be, but I liked the idea?

The RRS may look to have some corporate sponsorship of the 75th anniversary symposium if this is possible.

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Frank made the announcement of the upcoming 75th anniversary RRS symposium on April 14, 2018. This will be a public event at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center where we will have speakers from universities, government agencies and private companies.

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Frank also mentioned that he’ll be taking a trip to JPL with RRS founder, George James, later this month. Besides a tour, the RRS hopes to have a conversation with the K-12 education outreach coordinator at JPL on this visit. Frank will post an update on the website after this event.

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We adjourned late, 9:20PM, well after the 9PM closing time, but we covered a lot. If there is anything I missed or misstated, please contact me at my RRS email below.
secretary@rrs.org

For those desiring to apply to join the RRS, either as full members or as student members, download our RRS membership application form from this website and send it to the RRS by email or our post office box in Los Angeles.
president@rrs.org

Reaction Research Society
P.O. Box 90933
Los Angeles, CA, 90009-0933

Our next meeting will be August 11, 2017, at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center.

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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.
secretary@rrs.org