May 2018 meeting

The RRS held our monthly meeting on May 11, 2018 at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center. We were well attended, but got a late start. After the reading of the treasury report, we started with the discussion of the agenda items. We were happy to be visited by Wilbur and Mel Owens and Harry Reid of the Compton area. They heard of our work with schools and have interest in rocketry projects. We hope to form some kind of partnership to help support like-minded Los Angeles area groups.

RRS president, Osvaldo Tarditti starts the May 2018 meeting

May 2018 meeting of the RRS gets underway

First on the agenda was discussing the results of the 75th anniversary symposium. We had a lot of great feedback and built a lot of good relationships with industry, universities, schools and private groups at the all-day event. We also discussed some of the lessons learned from the symposium and what worked well and what could have been done better. The RRS is very grateful to the many people who supported the RRS in making this event possible. The discussion then turned to discuss if the RRS will hold a 2019 symposium around the same time next year. After some initial discussion, the vote was postponed to next month’s meeting.

Discussion of the 2018 RRS symposium

Second on the agenda was the upcoming launch event at the MTA on June 2nd with UCLA. UCLA will launch 10 of their commercial rocket motors as the final part of the quarterly class that Dr. Spearrin has with his students. The RRS is glad to host the event and we also plan on launching at least two of our standard alpha rockets at the event.

Alpha rocket iso view

Also, the RRS horizontal thrust stand is nearly complete as Osvaldo and I confirmed the fit of the final load cell parts to the frame. Osvaldo brought the frame and I brought the load cell to the meeting. Everything looks ready to go for final fit up on the concrete pad at the MTA at the June 2nd launch event. Having the ability to make actual thrust curve measurements on the RRS standard alpha rockets will be very valuable to better understand the performance of this classic rocket. Much of what is known of the flight characteristics is based on old knowledge which could be somewhat theoretical. Getting new data will be a step in the right direction to reducing uncertainty.

RRS horizontal thrust stand sits on a dolly at the May 2018 meeting

payload tube adapter, S-type load cell and thrust stand adapter; fit check is complete

After some discussion of scheduling other possible launch events at the RRS MTA with Cal Poly Pomona and USC, we moved on to the next agenda item.

The third topic on the agenda was about the next educational event that the RRS will support with our partners in the LAPD CSP program. This summer program will be with Operation Progress in Watts. The first session will kick off on June 15th and the final launch event is planned for July 7, 2018.

Operation Progress – Los Angeles

The fourth topic on the agenda was regarding the RRS pyrotechnic operators manual that I am compiling for the society. The RRS uses licensed pyro-ops at our events and we are on a mission to expand our roster to better support the growing activities at the MTA. Osvaldo, Richard and I have begun the process of getting endorsement letters from our fellow pyro-ops and when our applications to the state of California’s Fire Marshall office are complete and received, we will take and pass the exam to become licensed. Having a society manual to capture this knowledge is not only useful to train new pyro-ops but it is beneficial for all of our society to have simple access to this important information.

RRS pyro-op manual and training guide

The fifth topic on the agenda was a discussion of RRS payloads. I have been pushing our society membership to think about and design payloads for the many RRS standard alpha rockets we launch. Although the payload tubes are very small (1.60″ inner diameter), there are many opportunities for flying ever-shrinking sensors in these payload volumes.

Larry brought a few commercially available sensor packages that he hopes to fly in beta rockets. Some of these devices are simple and powerful which have been used in high-powered model rocketry with a lot of success. Payloads such as these will certainly work well in RRS rockets as well. Beta rockets tend to be expensive, so it would be nice to have those that fit inside the alpha payload tubes (1.600″ OD or about 1-1/8″ square).

most payloads are too big for the alpha payload tubes; force-fitting doesn’t help

Example of pre-fabricated instrumentation package; clean, simple, but often too big

I have designed an in-line second stage for an RRS standard alpha. Osvaldo was kind enough to machine the interstage and second stage pieces that I described in last month’s meeting post. The second stage would have a solid motor poured into a PVC casing that fits within the standard alpha aluminum payload tube. The pieces fit very well together which is very encouraging. I took the interstage part home with me to integrate the umbilical port and wiring and work up the delay timer for the upper stage igniter.

RRS standard alpha interstage and second stage motor casing

The final topic on the agenda was an idea that Osvaldo had for more educational program at the RRS. The RRS has gotten to know many fine speakers in areas of professional and amateur rocketry. In the past, we have invited speakers at our meetings, but we often don’t have an appropriate amount of time to listen and discuss these topics at length. The idea put forth is that the RRS would hold Saturday morning presentations to our interested membership. The idea was well received and approved by the society. A list of speakers is being built and Osvaldo will try to schedule the first presentation in what we hope will become a long series. More details will be coming in future announcements.

One last topic wedged in as we were finishing was that the RRS will be attending the Two-Bit Circus event in Hawthorne, California, next Saturday, May 19, 2018. The Two-Bit Circus is a high-tech STEAM-based amusement park that started in downtown Los Angeles and is growing to include more areas of the city. The RRS is glad to be a part of it. The link to the event is below.

Two Bit Circus – Hawthorne 19-MAY-2018

The RRS will have a booth at the Two-Bit Circus and will be bringing our air launcher for small paper rockets. Frank built a new air launcher that’s a little cheaper, but just as powerful and fun to try. The RRS will have it available for demonstration near the basketball courts at the event.

Frank’s T-shaped air launcher

The RRS meeting concluded late at 9:25pm. We are grateful to the Ken Nakaoka Community Center for letting us stay beyond the 9pm closing time of the center. The RRS must try to begin our meetings on time so we can finish on time.

If there is anything I have missed or misstated, please let me know.
secretary@rrs.org

The next monthly meeting of the RRS will be June 8, 2018. Please join us.

USC testing at the RRS MTA – Traveler III

The University of Southern California (USC) Rocket Propulsion Laboratory (RPL) team led by Haley Karow had a static firing of their prototype solid rocket booster at the RRS MTA on February 17, 2018. The RRS was glad to support USC on yet another advancement in their solid rocket motor program for students.

USC prepares their booster motor for testing at the RRS MTA, 2-17-2018

USC’s successful test demonstrated a 6-element bates grain solid motor with two improved features:
(1) a newly designed carbon phenolic nozzle with graphite inserts for the converging section and throat and (2) a linen phenolic and EPDM thermal protection system for the case. The motor grains were cast in Victorville at a site owned by Exquadrum.

USC Traveler III motor firing at the MTA, screen shot from Osvaldo’s camera

This full-sized motor design will power the Traveler III space-shot vehicle. The nozzle looked great after the firing, but a second nozzle will be used for the flight. The motor liner also did well. With a peak thrust of 4,864 lbf as measured by the USC horizontal thrust stand load cell, the total impulse was 41859.0 lbf-sec. Post-test inspections showed good results and the project can move forward with their flight vehicle. Ultimately, the Traveler III will attempt to reach an altitude of 400,000 feet (121.9 km) most likely from Black Rock, Nevada.

USC’s horiztonal thrust stand

The Reaction Research Society (RRS.ORG) is a 501(c)3 educational non-profit group that supports universities, high schools and other responsible private groups with both educational programs and resources for rocket testing. Now in our 75th year as a society, we hope to expand our reach to others as we grow into a new quarter century.

Contact USC RPL or the RRS for more details.
USC RPL contact information

February 2018 meeting

The RRS held its monthly meeting Friday, February 9, 2018 at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena. After reading the treasury report, we proceeded with the meeting agenda as listed on the “Forum” earlier this week.

Attendees at the 9-FEB-2018 RRS meeting

The RRS was glad to welcome new student members Jack and Brayden who come from the former Chaminade High School Rocket program. The RRS will be supporting their project to launch a boosted dart ultimately to an altitude of 150,000 feet or more. This work fits nicely into the RRS goals with the SuperDosa project and Jack and Brayden have made a lot of progress already thanks to the help of their sponsors and supporters including the RRS’s own Dave Crisalli. Last year, Jack and his team had a successful motor grain test at the MTA and they are looking to build upon this success for an even larger hot-fire test. RRS as a 501(c)3 educational non-profit group is glad to support our members.

On this Friday, the RRS has started the first of five classes with our third group of students from Florence Joyner Elementary School in Watts in conjunction with the LAPD CSP program. The program will seek to schedule a tour of the California Science Center at some point and the five session program will culminate in a launch event at the RRS Mojave Test Area (MTA) on March 24, 2018. The launch date has not yet been confirmed so please look for updates on the “Forum” portion of this webpage.

On this same subject, Michael has been working with his contacts at Redondo Union High School to find a way to begin an educational program with the RRS. The RRS is glad to work with new and returning schools in our educational programs. For more details, contact the RRS events coordinator, Larry Hoffing. events@rrs.org

On our third agenda topic, we talked about the progress made to date for the 75th anniversary RRS symposium. We have had great responses from our prior exhibitors and speakers as many are returning for this year’s event on Saturday, April 21, 2018. Our event will have speakers and exhibitors from the aerospace industry, government agencies and academia. The speakers slots have filled up fast so we hope to have our final confirmations given to us soon.

Frank has made the first flyer for this event and we encourage everyone to download a copy and share with everyone interested in attending this event covering topics of professional and amateur rocketry.

first flyer for the RRS 75th anniversary symposium

Frank has said that there is still much to do in preparing for the symposium. This event will likely be bigger than last year’s so we will really need our membership to pitch in and help make this year’s 75th anniversary a success. Weekly phone teleconferences will begin in two weeks. Frank will notify people of their assignments and we will discuss progress at these meetings.

Our fourth topic on the agenda discussed the progress I have made with the parachute recovery system I have built for an RRS standard alpha rocket. We launch many of these at our school events at the MTA and even with our membership making their own. I would like to see more of our members and high schools working with making payloads for the alpha. Given the small size of electronics these days, there are many more possibilities for flying instruments and recording data.

parachute and tethered nose cone for RRS standard alpha rocket

My time was very limited as the meeting was running late and I was only able to show the key parts of the parachute system still in build. Chris Lujan showed me some better knots for securing my nose cone and tether line to the internal bulkhead. I also showed the 3D-printed plastic umbilical port that Richard Garcia kindly built for me which will make switching on RRS alpha payload much easier if they use PVC payload tubes. I will compile more details soon and if this subject is still of interest, I can elaborate more at the March meeting.

Modified 555 timer chip with solid state relay replacing a mechanical relay. Umbilical part in the upper left.

I have also been working on a horizontal thrust stand built to test RRS standard alpha rockets. This would allow members to record thrust from the S-type load cell donated to us by Interface Force Inc. of Arizona. All of the structural members have been cut, but the adapter pieces need some changes to make a simpler connection. Thanks to Osvaldo for improving my load cell adapter design.

RRS horizontal thrust stand parts with S-type load cell

For our fifth agenda topic, Frank Miuccio, inspired by the device built by the Space and Missile Systems Heritage Center (SMC) of Los Angeles Air Force Base (LA AFB) in El Segundo, made his own little rocket air launcher. This simple tool takes an air pump to compress the sealed interior space of PVC piping behind a simple sprinkler valve.

Frank’s mini-rocket air launcher using a car-tire pump

Once inflated and everyone is at a safe distance away, the rocket is slipped over the angled launcher tube and is fired by releasing the valve and reservoir of air pressure behind it. Very simple in operation, it is quite fun to play with and we think the kids in our educational programs will think so also.

RRS treasurer, Chris Lujan, holds a 12-inch plastic rocket launched from the pump driven air launcher; Larry and Frank discuss

As the last agenda topic, Richard had mentioned that the modifications to his cryogenic methane dewar were complete and that the vessel was back at the MTA. As we were out of time, Richard can explain the details more at the next meeting in March.

The meeting adjourned but several of us watched Frank and Chris test fire the small rocket air launcher that Frank had built from Home Depot parts and a battery powered car tire pump. Despite the darkness of night, we were able to recover these small 12-inch vehicles aided by the inclusion of a blue LED in the nose. We had more than a little fun popping these little rockets as high as 100 feet.

If there is anything I have missed or misstated, please let me know:
secretary@rrs.org

Our next meeting will be Friday, March 9, 2018 at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena. See you there!