April 2018 meeting

The RRS held its monthly meeting on April 13, 2018 at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena. We had a full agenda with the most important item being the 75th anniversary RRS symposium that is coming in only 8 days. We had a prompt start at 7:30pm with Osvaldo calling the meeting to order and giving the reading of the treasury report. We had a full attendance including our new RRS members, Jack, Dylan, Connor, Cooper and Byron from the former Chaminade High School rocketry club. They have been very busy with their solid rocket project. We didn’t have time to add their progress to our agenda, but we hope they’ll give an update at the May meeting.

Bill Janczewski and Chris Lujan just before the April 2018 meeting

The first agenda item discussed the work done by the Aerospace Corporation of El Segundo, California, on March 26th and 27th at the RRS MTA site. RRS member and Aerospace Corporation employee, Drew Cortopassi gave an excellent summary of the work. Aerospace Corporation’s experimental work was a success and we hope that Aerospace may return to use our site to advance their designs. Aerospace Corporation is one of our exhibitors and presenters at the meeting. A fuller discussion of their rocket testing at the RRS MTA will be given at the RRS’s 75th anniversary symposium, next Saturday, April 21st.

Aerospace Corporation tests an experimental solid motor design at the RRS MTA, 3/26/2018.

The next agenda topic was discussing the results from the launch event held last weekend with Florence Joyner Elementary School with the LAPD CSP program. Frank gave an excellent summary and Osvaldo discussed a theory explaining the odd bending of each alpha rocket found at the event. Most alpha rockets come down nearly vertically and burying themselves straight into the hard dry lake bed. At the launch event of April 7th, nearly all of the rocket propellant tubes were bent. Typically, this only happens if the rocket strikes a rock beneath the surface, but it is quite uncommon. Osvaldo’s invention of the Rockextractor proved to be a swift tool for reclaiming found alpha rockets.

Osvaldo’s newest invention, the Rockextractor

As a side note, Frank had mentioned that the USC short film “Rockets in the Projects” covering the November launch event with Grape Street Elementary class and the LAPD CSP program will be screened with other short films at Annenberg Hall on the campus of USC on Wednesday, April 18th. Seating is very limited so those interested in seeing the film should act quickly.

The third agenda topic was about the RRS expanding its roster of licensed pyrotechnic operators (pyro-op’s). We have great support from our current pyro-op’s but the society would benefit from having more. The RRS will be building a training manual that includes the materials mandated by the California Fire Marshal’s office to attain a license in rocketry. This tool will be an effective study tool for members looking to become licensed pyro-ops. At the very least, the training helps spread safe practices in the society. Given the limited time we had at this month’s meeting, we agreed to discuss this topic further at the next month’s meeting in May.

RRS pyro-op manual and training guide

The fourth agenda topic was something that Larry Hoffing discovered. The 2-bit Circus Foundation is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to the next generation of inventors to advance environmental stewardship and spur community engagement. The 2-bit circus has a futuristic arcade in downtown Los Angeles and has reached out to the RRS to be an exhibitor at their next event in Hawthorne, California. The RRS was supportive of this idea and once more details become available we will find a few members to attend the exhibition to help us reach more people at this event for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) education which our shared passion.

Two Bit Circus Foundation – STEAM education

The fifth agenda topic briefly discussed an idea that I have developed a second-stage design that fits with the RRS standard alpha payload tube. With a short segment of 1-1/4″ PVC tubing turned down to fit inside the 1.75″ OD payload tube and machined PVC end cap, a second stage motor with a graphite nozzle can be fired atop of the micrograin booster. A short length of Type-1 PVC round stock was donated to the RRS by Industrial Plastic Supply Inc. of Anaheim, California. There are many plastic suppliers, but not many that offer such a range of plastics in small quantities better suited for experimenters and hobbyists with modest personal budgets. I happily recommend them to all.

Industrial Plastic Supply Inc. – Anaheim, California

An interstage piece is necessary to trigger the second stage after a set time delay. I have designed an umbilical connector piece that uses a 3.5mm audio plug and panel-mount jack as a switch.

3.5 mm audio jack, panel mount

To internally mount the switch at a shallow angle for easy extraction of the plug as the alpha rocket lifts away from the launch rack required a unique plastic piece that Richard Garcia was able to 3D print for me in plastic. The fit check was a success so now I have to get the connector wired and mounted.

two of the umbilical jack mounts, plastic nozzle puck in the foreground

The solid motor grain itself was thought to be simple rocket candy, but other solid propellant types could be tried. Chris Lujan offered to pour a second stage grain for my design. Richard Garcia also offered to make his next motor grain to fit in this standard payload tube size. I have designed most pieces, but some aspects of this design need more work and testing. The RRS would like to encourage our members and our partner organizations to design and fly payloads with our standard alpha rockets which are easy to produce. Time was short so this topic was also tabled for the next month’s meeting as this work evolves.

RRS standard alpha, second stage assembly (work in progress)

The sixth agenda topic similarly had no real time to get into the details. The quarterly progress report of the SuperDosa project had only the RRS ballistic evaluation motor (BEM) to discuss. This workhorse tool will help the RRS accurately determine burn rate with variable nozzle puck sizes. Richard Garcia did turn out a basic set of graphite puck nozzles for the BEM.

RRS BEM graphite nozzle pucks, courtesy of Richard Garcia

The cylinder piece is with Osvaldo once he can find time to machine the bore and pressure ports. The top and bottom plates will be made soon by CNC Specialty Machining of Huntington Beach. This is the same machine shop that did a quality job with milling the S-type load cell adapter blocks for the RRS horizontal thrust stand. Thanks to Matt Moffitt of CNC Specialty Machining which is soon to relocate their business in Huntington Beach next month.

RRS ballistic evaluation motor design concept

The last agenda topic was the last preparations necessary for the RRS symposium coming next Saturday, April 21st. This event will easily be larger than last year’s event with over 400 Eventbrite reservations made just before the meeting. We have a longer list of speakers including new participants such as NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center’s (GSFC) Wallops Island Flight Facility (WFF) in Virginia. We will need all of our members to help us support this event. Please spread the word!

There will be a lot of work in setting up the night before. Members are encouraged to come help set things up at 7PM on the Friday night beforehand, April 20th. Contact Frank Miuccio who is our symposium coordinator if you would like to help.

vicepresident@rrs.org

The RRS meeting went out to the exhibition hall of the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena. The RRS will have the whole center for our public event and we hope everyone can come. Frank will send me the final agenda with the speaker list and the presentation times. This is an all-day event, but consult the RRS.ORG website for updated information. I plan to make a posting for the RRS symposium soon.

The meeting adjourned as the Ken Nakaoka Community Center closed. Osvaldo did some work for our new members with a clamping assembly to hold their rocket casing in their own horizontal thrust stand to test their full-sized boosted dart motor. Although independently conceived, this work nicely fits with the SuperDosa project and the RRS is glad to have another project to help advance the work of the society and our members.

RRS members stand outside of the Ken Nakaoka Community Center after the meeting with the horizontal thrust stand

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

Our next meeting will be Friday, May 11, 2018. Please come as we will have much to discuss after the symposium and plenty to do in this summer of our 75th anniversary as a society.

October 2017 meeting

The RRS held its monthly meeting this Friday, October 13, 2017 at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center. Our usual meeting room was unavailable that night so we met upstairs in conference room “F”. We called the meeting to order at 7:30pm and read off the treasurer’s report.

Frank, Osvaldo and Larry had just finished the last of the five sessions with Grape Street Elementary in Watts, our latest educational program supported by the LAPD CSP program. 23 kids were in this program and 13 alpha rockets were prepared including one for LAPD and another for the video crew who was kind enough to document each session. Osvaldo has made a really neat rack mounting system for the freshly painted but still unloaded alphas.

alpha rocket rack mounting system

Richard has built a larger rocket candy motor to fly with a parachute recovery system he has built. He brought part of his pyrotechnic actuated dual-deployment system to the meeting. Also in the photo is a cruciform-style parachute that was given to me for use on a beta rocket.

parachute and pyrotechnic dual-deployment mechanism

My alpha with a PVC payload tube and parachute recovery system is still in work pending resolution of some internal mounting issues. Osvaldo was kind enough to drill a hole in the point of an alpha aluminum nose cone with which I hope to fly a pitot-tube type flight speed sensor I am making.

alpha aluminum nose cone with hollow tip

The launch event was originally scheduled for next Saturday, October 21st, however, the RRS MTA will not be available as Polaris Propulsion is still using the site. The event will be rescheduled to no earlier than Saturday, November 11th. Please check the forum for the most up to date news on launch.

Alastair Martin, one of our newest members, had edited the footage taken from the last LAPD launch event in July. He showed his video for the membership at the meeting which was quite impressive. We hope to have this on the RRS YouTube channel soon.

YouTube – RRS channel

Alastair and his brother had some ideas on how to internally mount a camera within the payload tube of the alpha he hopes to fly at the next event. We discussed these after the meeting was over.

The quarterly update on the SuperDosa project was given. Richard has repaired the graphite dust gathering apparatus for his lathe and hopes to get some of the nozzle pucks turned out for the ballistic evaluation motor (BEM) we are building. Osvaldo is looking for a machinist with a mill to make the upper and lower plate for the BEM. I have bought an adapter fitting for the 5,000 psi pressure transmitter I bought but need to get 1/4″ SS tubing. I am also compiling a list of our chemical materials to make our first batch of the RRS standard propellant mixture.

A discussion of the 75th anniversary symposium was started however with all the work for the Grape Street Elementary program being done, Frank wanted to start discussion at next month’s meeting in November. I have already started to ask some of our previous speakers to return including NASA, AFRL and UCLA. We hope to have many if not all of last year’s speakers return for the April 14, 2018 event. Frank has again agreed to be the symposium coordinator.

The 75th anniversary issue of the Astrojet newsletter was discussed. This special one-time issue for the RRS 75th anniversary will be in print only and issued January 6, 2018. I have approached several people already, but I am making a wider call for articles to all of our membership. Two to three paragraphs on singular subjects related to rocketry past, present and particularly in the future are desired. The submittal deadline is November 15th. Bill Janczewsky has agreed to both contribute an article and help me in producing this one-time print publication to interested parties who provide their mailing address, pay their annual membership dues ($40) and the added price of the issue’s publication (TBD). The cost goes to benefit the society functions including the upcoming symposium.

To all members and invited contributors, send me your ideas or drafts as soon as possible. There is only one month left before the November 15th deadline.
secretary@rrs.org

The RRS history project continues as Richard Garcia has added to our archives with more newsletters and other past publications given by past and present members. I hope to schedule a few interviews with some of our long-time past members depending on schedules. John Mariano is helping me set this up.

UCLA sent two students, John Harnsberger and Nick Kuenning, to the meeting and gave us a rundown of the three projects they are working including their liquid rocket engine (Project Ares) now entering hot-fire testing at the FAR site. They are still working on a few issues with instrumentation, but will be back in hot-fire test again very soon.

USC RPL wasn’t able to come to the meeting but we hope to hear about their goals and objectives for this year soon. USC had indicated that they wanted to fire three solid motors at each of three different testing days. USC has already began testing at the FAR site, but we hope to have the MTA available to support USC on one of these occasions.

Next month will be nominations for the executive council. Larry will be putting forth the ballots to the administrative membership after the meeting with voting taking place in December before the next meeting (December 8th). Results will be announced in the December meeting.

We adjourned promptly at 9:00 pm. The next RRS monthly meeting will be Friday, November 10th.

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

The Great American Eclipse

On Monday, August 21, 2017, nearly all of North America got a rare treat to observe a full solar eclipse as it passed from Oregon to South Carolina. Most people I know stayed in the Los Angeles area and observed the partial eclipse (almost 70%) while at work. Others took the day off and flocked up to Oregon to contend with the crowds. I took the opportunity to return to the Midwest to see my family and witness the full eclipse from the southeast corner of Nebraska as the eclipse made its path there just after 1 pm.

scattered storms throughout southeast Nebraska

Was it worth dodging scattered thunderstorms throughout the state and driving 5 hours with very low odds on having clear skies? Yes!

total solar eclipse, August 21, 2017; Beatrice, Nebraska

Fortune smiled on us as the clouds cleared (for the most part) at just the right moment. While many locations were destined to be disappointed by heavy cloud cover and rain, the city of Beatrice in Nebraska was blessed to have a clear enough view through thin high altitude clouds. A view clear enough for me to snap a few pictures using the solar eclipse glasses as a lens cover with my cell phone as the moon moved into totality.

Only during the moment of complete coverage (totality) was it safe to directly view the sun. Even under a partial eclipse, the sun WILL damage your eyes if viewed directly. To be safe, only eye-wear and filters that meets the ISO 12312-2:2015 specification requirements should be used.

just before totality, using the filter over the camera lens

While my photos of the corona were underwhelming, I did snap some photos around the area to show how rapidly the skies got a little dim and then DARK! To illustrate what it was like in the path of totality, In these four successive shots of the same street view where we stood, you see just how dark it suddenly gets in the penumbra. Our location was nearly ideal as we had nearly 2 minutes and 30 seconds under the total solar eclipse!

just before totality

same view, in the darkness of totality

coming out of darkness, the penumbra moves on

back to normal, eclipse has passed minutes later

I was glad to witness the event with my wife, Kathleen, and my nephew, Joseph. It’s these rare events that can make great memories as you do them with family and friends.

safely witnessing the eclipse

If you missed this grand event, Americans will have another chance almost seven years later on April 8, 2024. The NASA website is an excellent resource for eclipse viewing and future events.

NASA official website – Eclipse

If anyone else has photos or stories to share, please let me know on the forum.
secretary@rrs.org