August 2019 meeting

by Dave Nordling, Secretary, RRS


The Reaction Research Society (RRS) held its monthly meeting on Friday, August 9, 2019, at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena. We were glad to welcome a new member to the society, Drew Sherman. Frank mentioned that the latest educational event with LAPD CSP was going well and that we can expect the next launch event to take place on Saturday, September 21st.

Drew and Arthur Cortopassi attend the August 2019 meeting of the RRS

We began our meeting with the call to order and reading of the treasury report. This August meeting would try to catch up on topics intended for past meetings.

[1] MTA launch events since the last meeting

The first topic on the agenda was discussion of the recent launch events held at the MTA since our last meeting. The RRS hosted Operation Progress at the MTA on July 13th. The launch report for this last event with the LAPD CSP program has already been posted.

UCLA held its second of two high school rocket launch events at the RRS MTA on July 31st. This was supported by Osvaldo Tarditti and Larry Hoffing as the six teams flew and recovered egg payloads using model rockets with “G” sized commercial motors. The event was a great benefit to the young participants and a welcome change of pace as the RRS welcomes model rocketry and amateur rocketry alike.

UCLA supports high school rocketry, the RRS was glad to host two events at the MTA in July 2019.

RRS members, Jack Oswald and Cooper Eastwood, had a launch event at the RRS MTA on August 3rd, delayed 2 weeks from the original July 20th date. The “50 for 50” rocket was built to reach 50,000 feet on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Jack’s large solid motor was impressive as he and his family worked hard at the event to get his rocket ready for flight.

Jack’s mom carefully folds and stows the streamer payload which would be the first deployment after the booster reaches apogee somewhere near 50,000 feet. The Oswald family was a big part of making this flight possible and the vehicle integration went quite smoothly even in the August summer heat of the Mojave Desert.

A last minute inclusion was a radio tracking package made by Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR) member, Joe Conway. Joe was kind enough to allow his tracker to fly in Jack’s rocket as his device was not operational. Our fellow amateur rocketry enthusiasts at FAR came over to assist in the launch and the RRS was glad to have their participation.

Jack’s rocket weighed in at over 82 lbs with 30 lbs of AP composite propellant in four Bates grains within his booster. With a team of four to six people, the booster and instrumented payload section were assembled and loaded into the rails.

Cooper Eastwood, Jack Oswald and Prof. Barsoum Kasparian (holding the booster igniter) inside the George Dosa building at the RRS MTA

Unfortunately, the “50 for 50” rocket flight was a failure and the booster exploded shortly after ignition. Based on the film footage, ignition of the motor was achieved and the rocket lifted about two to three feet within the rail before an over-pressure event ruptured the booster and destroyed a great deal of the launch rails. No one was injured in the firing, but there was a large amount of clean-up to be done. We were very thankful to all of our attendees for their attention to safety and assistance in carefully gathering for disposal of the unburned propellant scattered from the violent end of this rocket.

The 50 for 50 rocket just after ignition and lift-off. This is the last frame before the booster disappears into a cloud of debris and smoke shattering the launch rails into a twisted mess.

Given the extensive damage to the rails, refurbishment will be costly. The RRS is already assessing plans to replace the necessary parts to restore this large adjustable rail launcher very soon.

Initial frame taken from the observation bunker as the “50 for 50” booster shatters in the rails throwing the payload upward with the streamer and parachute coming out

Jack is preparing a report of his entire build processes and some theories regarding what happened and what could be done better. This report will be submitted to our membership, but Jack will be unable to present his findings in person as he will be leaving for his freshman year at MIT. Even in failure, it’s important to keep good records. The RRS is a scientific society which insists on good record-keeping and sharing knowledge to make each project better than the last.

It was an amazing effort by a group so young. They had great support from many people and sponsoring organizations who donated money and resources to completing their rocket for this test. The RRS was proud to help our members achieve a great learning experience and in time, try again.

John Newman of FAR standing next to the damaged rail launcher examines an unburned grain fragment from the “50 for 50” booster.

Going back to the MTA launch event of July 13, Brian Johnson was able to present a summary of Kent Schwitkis’ trajectory analysis of the Compton Comet alpha rocket flown that day at the MTA event for Operation Progress and LAPD CSP. Kent did a thorough analysis of the optically measured positions of the alpha as it left the rails within the view of the footage taken. Using the video footage taken of their alpha fired from the RRS MTA box rail, careful scale measurement of key landmarks in the background, the software program can make reasonable estimates of the position, velocity and acceleration of the rocket as it is seen and timed frame by frame in the video.

Brian Johnson goes over the trajectory analysis based on video footage of the July 13 flight of the Compton alpha rocket. Kent Schwitkis performed this analysis using a physics software package which provided reasonably good results given the number of potential difficulties in using an optical measurement approach.
The trajectory data plotted in Excel showed a clean acceleration pattern which matched expectations from past testing of the alpha.

The optical measurement approach provided some direct confirmation about the starting acceleration (95 G’s) and burnout speed (200 m/sec) of the RRS standard alpha flown that day. Kent Schwitkis’ method has great potential. The best course of action would be to conduct further tests of this kind to get a larger data set to confirm the statistical accuracy and variation between similar alpha rockets flown. The society will have this opportunity at the next event planned for September 21st.

[2] RRS standard liquid and the TAM project

Richard Garcia, our director of research, has created a prototype design for a simple liquid rocket that after some initial trial and error could become a standard project at the RRS much like the alpha and beta have become for micrograin solid propellant. Richard has created a materials list and the society is in the process of acquiring the necessary items and will begin construction of the initial prototype. For now, it is too early to say what this standard design will look like, but as many past members have built their own liquid rockets over the years, the RRS can draw upon a sizable base of past knowledge to create a modest liquid rocket that is both powerful and practical for future members to try.

I have been working with a small group at the Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum (TAM) at the Compton Airport. This project has a simple goal of creating a ground testing system to hot-fire a surplus LR-101 vernier motor. TAM has acquired a few of these kerosene and liquid oxygen LR-101 motors which have internal cooling passages and are made for long duration firings. Although the engine is already made, building the necessary regulated pressurization system and valves will be the primary challenge. This work can easily benefit other liquid rocket projects.

[3] RRS social media improvements

This is a regular agenda topic to be discussed at each meeting with the goal of finding ways to improve our presence in social media platforms and on the internet in general. Bill and Alastair, our two media coordinators, were both absent at this meeting so this topic will return next month as planned.

We’ve had a few new posts on our Instagram feed with recent events. Bill Behenna recommended that on flyers for future RRS events, the addition of a QR code to link back to our official webpage or other important information is something we should do.

[4] Pyrotechnic operating licensing at the RRS

The RRS has been working with CALFIRE on having more of our membership becoming licensed pyrotechnic operators to better enhance our operations and foster amateur rocketry in general. Osvaldo Tarditti, Larry Hoffing and myself have all been working through the licensing process. We encourage more of our membership to spend the time to prepare their applications and gather letters of recommendation necessary to begin the process. This will be a slow process, but as more pyro-op’s at the RRS become available, more able our society will be to hold events and support other rocketry groups in their projects.

[5] New RRS alpha payloads

The RRS holds many launch events throughout the year with Los Angeles area schools thanks to our partnership with the LAPD CSP. These events have from six to twelve alpha rockets flown from the RRS MTA at the conclusion of each program but they have empty payload tubes. This represents a great opportunity to fly more payloads.

John Krell has been working on an instrumentation package that can record high accelerations, barometric pressure and capture high speed data all in a compact package that fits in the tiny confines of an RRS standard alpha rocket. There are many commercially available instrumentation packages for model rockets which have larger plastic bodies Given the smaller internal diameter of an RRS standard alpha rocket, many of these great devices simply do not fit. John’s design seeks to make use of the latest instrumentation chips all in a long thin compact package ready for use in the RRS alpha. With luck, his device should be ready for flight at the next RRS MTA launch on September 21, 2019.

John Krell shows his latest breadboard model of his alpha instrumentation package.

SImilarly, Brian Johnson, in partnership with Kent Schwitkis and Compton College, has been working on an instrumentation payload of their own design for the RRS standard alpha. The first flight of his payload on July 13, 2019, was not successful as it failed to start recording. Brian has worked to improve the design, but the fundamental principles were sound. A second flight of this design at our next launch event at the MTA on September 21, 2019, should prove to be successful.

Brian Johnson’s alpha payload designed to fit inside the aluminum nosecone of an RRS standard alpha.

[6] Discussion of the next RRS symposium

The RRS opened discussion about the possibility of holding another symposium in the next calendar year, 2020. Previously, the society had decided not to hold another symposium after 2019 until two years later for both reasons of cost and resources necessary to conduct the event. While the society has not formally decided whether or not to have a 2020 RRS Symposium, the executive council did decide to study the matter further based on continued success and enthusiasm by past attending organizations.

The RRS will make a decision on this matter before the next meeting. If the RRS does decide to proceed, we must begin preparations in the latter part of the year to allow sufficient time to contact participants giving them time to prepare for a symposium in the spring as was done since our 2017 RRS symposium. Further, full engagement of our membership will be critical to keep this string of successes going strong.

IN CLOSING

As the meeting adjourned, RRS member, Mohammed Daya showed us the two model rocket bodies he purchased at a Northrop-Grumman swap meet recently. These were built by a retired rocketeer who wanted his hobby to go to another enthusiast.

Mohammed Daya shows Osvaldo Tarditti and Wilbur Owens the two model rocket bodies he bought at a swap meet. F and G type commercial motors look to be the right size.

As these two rockets only need some minor repairs and suitably sized commercial motors to be installed, we hope Mohammed will be able to launch them from the MTA on September 21.


The RRS will hold our next meeting on September 13, 2019. We plan on discussing three very important subjects:

(1) RRS MTA facility improvement plans including a new restroom facility, a new blockhouse and replacement of the large box rails damaged in the August 3, 2019, launch attempt.

(2) Discuss the initial draft of the updated Constitution as presented to our attending membership by the 2020 RRS Constitutional Committee.

(3) RRS decision on the next symposium.


If there are any questions, please contact the RRS secretary.

secretary@rrs.org

May 2019 meeting

Dave Nordling, Secretary, RRS.ORG


The RRS met for our monthly meeting on Friday, May 10, 2019, at 7:30pm at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena, CA. We were not as well attended this month, but we did have three new people join us at the meeting. With Mother’s Day weekend and graduation ceremonies happening at this time of year, many had other commitments.

The RRS welcomed David Minar and John Krell to the May 2019 meeting.

I must admit my error this week. I did realize too late that my monthly email to announce the meeting was not sent this week. Typically, I do send an email reminder to our active membership list (or anyone else who wants to know) on the Monday before meeting which also contains a copy of the agenda. Next month, I will not forget as this unintended experiment has shown that our reminder emails can be valuable to our membership.

The RRS has our monthly meetings always at 7:30pm on the 2nd Friday of each month. I usually mark my whole calendar each year with all of the 2nd Fridays to avoid schedule conflicts, but this is only a suggestion. Our meeting location is at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena, unless otherwise announced in advance.

Also, in about the week prior to the meeting around the first of the month, I will gather up the agenda topics expected for the next month and post . All members are welcome to send their suggestions and ideas for agenda topics. We especially want short topics (5 minutes) on things related to rocketry, chemistry, payloads or just any kind of project you’re working on. The society is about sharing knowledge. Send an email to the RRS secretary or any of the executive council and we can put it on the agenda. Some of our members who aren’t in town have submitted things to be presented at meetings in the past which is also something the society can share in our meeting if the materials are clear enough and sent well in advance.

After calling the meeting to order and the reading of the treasury report, we began our agenda for May and covered most of the topics leaving some for June 14, 2019.

Waldo Stakes (left reclining) and new RRS member, Kent Schwitkis, a professor at Compton College. Kent joined us at the 2019 RRS symposium and we bid him welcome at the May 2019 meeting.

(1) Discussion of the 2019 RRS Symposium

The 2019 RRS Space & Rocketry Symposium held on Saturday, April 27th, was a success. We had a few different presenters this year in our lineup, welcomed a few new exhibitors and were very well attended over most of the day. According to Frank, we broke last year’s attendance by a small margin. RRS president, Osvaldo Tarditti, was very pleased with the amount of support we got from our membership in the night before and early morning of the symposium. Also, the RRS was very glad to have support we did at the end of the symposium in tearing down and cleaning up at the close of the day. These often overlooked simple details make running the symposium a real pleasure even at the end of a long day.

Frank Miuccio, RRS Vice President and Symposium Coordinator. The RRS thanks to Frank for all of his hard work in bringing together many people and many things to make this 2019 symposium another success.

We had our first opportunity to discuss the positive things at the symposium at the May meeting and this took up most of our meeting time. We were very happy to see so many groups come out including Spaceport LA, ROC and two organizations within the US Air Force (SMC at LA AFB and AFRL from Edwards AFB). The food truck vendor was also a great success. Many people enjoyed the pleasant weather and good food we had on site at lunch time. The outdoor exhibits were also a big hit. We are also thankful to LAPD CSP and the Los Angeles county sheriff’s department. The society will take notes to help with improving and expanding our next symposium still in planning for April 2021.

Some things that could have been better was sound quality. It was generally agreed that better speaker placement and the cloth barriers behind our audience rows was not sufficient to dampen out the noise from several running exhibits and the general foot traffic. It was my suggestion that we return to the 2017 format of having our presentations in the separate meeting room in the back and keep our exhibitors in the ballroom and at the main entrance.

We have also discovered that our exhibition seems to do well starting first thing in the morning and lasting until mid-afternoon. However, our audience attendance for our speakers tended to be better starting in the late morning and lasting all the way to the end of the day. The RRS is considering having fewer presenters but keeping the duration and range of content the same. Our audience seems to enjoy the topics that our speakers have been offering, so we will continue in this direction. The RRS will likely discuss more of our member and attendee impressions of the symposium at the next meeting on June 14, 2019.

(2) Terry Price’s presentation on composite materials used in rocketry – delayed to next month

Terry was unable to attend the May meeting, however, he did say that he could join us next month. Terry gave a great hour and a half presentation of composite materials at the EAA 96 monthly meeting in April. I hope he can bring some of the same excitement that he generated at the Compton Airport to our June 14 meeting in Gardena.

Terry Price, retired, formerly at Cerritos College and a nationally recognized expert in aerospace composite materials

(3) Upcoming events at the RRS Mojave Test Area

The rocket build event with Spaceport LA planned for early May was cancelled. We hope to reschedule a similar event with them very soon. The RRS is always interested in supporting these rocket build events with public and private groups if there is sufficient interest. Larry Hoffing is our events coordinator and the point of contact for setting up these kinds of events.

events@rrs.org – Larry Hoffing

UCLA will be having their rocket launch event at the end of the Spring Quarter 2019 on Saturday, June 1st. Several model rocket motors will be fired as part of Dr. Mitchell Spearrin’s undergraduate class. We have been glad to support UCLA for three years running in hosting this event. The RRS has also been glad to support their liquid and solid rocket motor teams over recent years.

At this same June 1st launch event, Osvaldo and I talked about securing the alpha thrust stand and having a series of static hot fires to generate more thrust curves for our micrograin alphas. From the one and only thrust curve we made, it appears that the RRS standard alpha qualifies as an “I” sized motor. We had a setback last year when the concrete slab to which the rocket and thrust stand was secured proved to be an insufficient foundation to react the swift impulse loading of an alpha. We have this footage of this defective hot-fire test on our Instagram account. It’s almost comical, but we must do better for the sake of safety and good science. Further, we need more data. The RRS does not intend to commercialize the standard alpha, but for the sake of future projects using this vehicle as a test bed, it would be good to have more recent motor performance measurements.

First of ten alphas right at liftoff

Some of our membership had indicated interest in building payloads to fly inside of the RRS standard alpha rockets we fly at each of these school events. Nearly all of these payload tubes are empty and are available to members able to build and supply their payloads before the event. Contact the RRS president for more details on alpha rocket payload tube specifications.

president@rrs.org

Frank has confirmed another rocket build event starting this summer in June through the LAPD CSP program. LAPD has been an ardent supporter and our rocket build programs are a big hit with the kids. The final part of the project is the launch event at the RRS Mojave Test Area (MTA). This will likely take place on Saturday, July 13th. We often have at least six alphas and sometimes as many as a dozen rockets at these events.

(X1) A brief word to potential users of the RRS MTA

Our membership is welcome to bring more tests and flights to the manifest. The only requirements the RRS has is that all participants download and submit a Standard Record Form available from the RRS.ORG forms library. This document provides a basic description of the project that members or other authorized attendees intend to execute at the RRS MTA. Supporting illustrations and documents are encouraged to help explain the task and operations for the supervising pyrotechnic operator. Approval of all activities at the RRS MTA are at the discretion of the supervising pyrotechnic operator and the RRS.

For those outside of our membership wishing to use the RRS MTA, the society requires submission of Standard Record Forms for all proposed activities. These must be submitted to the RRS president at least 14 calendar days in advance of the planned MTA event. Details of these tests can be held confidentially, but the RRS must have the opportunity to review, understand and approve all activities at the RRS MTA well in advance of the event. The RRS would prefer to have at least a month’s notice if not more. The RRS has been glad to assist more and more groups particularly with universities, however, we can not always support events particularly when we get little or no advance notice.

In the professional aerospace industry, it is a common practice to schedule a date with the testing site many months in advance and use this calendar deadline to help motivate the team to achieving meaningful results in time for the pre-set date. Scheduling a test date as an after-thought in executing a project often leads to disappointing results. Also, the society strongly recommends that users consider using times of the year other than at the end of semesters or quarters. If an event is planned well in advance, we will keep it on our calendar and can more easily have the personnel and resources ready.

The RRS must coordinate our activities with several parties and the better informed we are and the more notice we have will result in the RRS being better able to serve our prospective membership and clients. For any questions about RRS policy or practices, please contact the RRS president. The RRS is a volunteer organization and will always make our best effort to support rocket programs and projects.

(4) Pyrotechnic Operators for Rocketry in California

The RRS has been on a campaign to get more of our membership to apply and attain their pyrotechnic operators license. We’ve enjoyed a lot of support from many of our licensed membership in getting the necessary letters of recommendation for the application process. The RRS has also been glad to have the advice and assistance of the California Fire Marshal’s office. Osvaldo Tarditti, Larry Hoffing, Drew Cortopassi, Chris Lujan and myself have been in the application process for the rocketry pyrotechnic operators license. At the May 2019 meeting, Alastair Martin indicated his interest in becoming a pyrotechnic operator also. With more pyrotechnic operators on the state roster, there is more opportunity for more groups to conduct events throughout California. The RRS plans to remain active in our support to the public.

It’s with pleasure that I announce that I have attained my 3rd class rockets pyrotechnic operator’s license from CALFIRE this month. This annually renewable license allows me to buy high powered solid motors and supervise launch events within this class of solid motors. I hope to soon announce more pyrotechnic operators at the RRS very soon. The RRS is also very glad for the support of the licensed pyro-operators in our society and outside of our society at Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR). It is through the mutual support of all rocketry organizations that we expand our voice in the state and maintain a high standard for safety and the bold tradition of experimentation made possible in the Golden State.

RRS’s newest pyrotechnic operator, Dave Nordling

It’s my intention to upgrade my license to rockets 2nd class to be able to supervise and manage the unlimited category of solid rocket motors. The RRS is an organization that regularly conducts flights and testing in the unlimited class of solid motors. Our proud tradition of responsible experimentation in solid rocket technologies has one of our perrennial activities for over seven decades from micrograin to composite motors.

For more information on the licensing process for pyrotechnic operators as it pertains to rocketry, please contact CALFIRE directly.

(5) RRS Constitutional Committee

Now that the 2019 RRS symposium is complete, the RRS Constitutional Committee will begin their task of systematically revising and updating the RRS constitution. This task was approved by the society earlier this year and the committee comprised of two regular members (Larry Hoffing and Bill Janczewski) and one executive council member (Frank Miuccio) were appointed to begin this task over the summer.

The RRS Constitution has been updated periodically through amendments and notices over the years. The society has decided that a full review and incorporation of all changes be made in an update to the constitution to be voted and approved by our active voting membership near this year’s end. The main intent of the committee is to examine the constitution and recommend changes to better reflect how the society operates today. RRS president, Osvaldo Tarditti, did offer a word of caution that the Constitution should not be too specifically worded to over-regulate our operations. He has recommended that the committee take a minimalist approach and the committee will take this under advisement. Frank already has copies of the last edition of the RRS Constitution and amendments. These materials are available to all society members and some may already be on the RRS website.

This new revision will be known as the 2020 Constitution. It is a big effort and the society looks forward to the committee’s draft to be presented at the September 13, 2019, monthly meeting where suggestions and discussions will first commence.

(6) RRS Social Media Improvements – Recurring Topic

Alastair Martin was able to talk a little bit about RRS social media improvements and advertising of RRS events in general. One of his suggestions was that the society examine the use of EDDM (Every Door, Direct Mailers). These are the large postcard advertisements that organizations use to go into the mailboxes of targetted audiences throughout a region. Alastair has used these in the past with some of his events and had great success. The cost is substantial, but the results could be many more people getting notice to come to future symposiums and other large events with the RRS.

RRS media officer, Alastair Martin, discusses his ideas for marketing future RRS events at the May 2019 meeting

I had offered a suggestion that the RRS consider the use of more forms of electronic payment to help our ability to sell items at events or take membership dues and application fees. Venmo is a smartphone application that can be convenient for some to make direct payments to the RRS. The society seemed open to the idea, but it seemed to require further discussion and a vote to implement the change. There may be other means of electronic payment to consider however we must be cognizant of the fees involved and how practical each means would be for the society. We can bring this subject up again at the next meeting on June 14, 2019.

Currently, the RRS only has a PayPal account which is connected to our “DONATE” button on the RRS.ORG website. We encourage new applicants to use the “DONATE” button to tender their application fee ($40) if they desire associate membership at the RRS. Also, for our current membership, annual dues payments are much easier if made through PayPal or using our “DONATE” button. The only we ask for online donors is that they make a note of what the contribution is for and who we have to thank.

The RRS still accepts payments by direct mail to our post office box shown in our RRS.ORG website. The mailbox is not very frequently examined so it is strongly advised that all persons making payments to the RRS by direct mail contact the RRS president or RRS treasurer by email in advance to let them know to inspect the mailbox soon after the mail arrives. It is not uncommon for our direct mail to sit for a week or more.

Lastly, Alastair made mention of the next Rocket Talk Radio podcast which Richard Garcia and I will be a part of on Saturday, May 25th. The subject of this hour-long program will be Robert Truax. Truax was a key figure in 20th century rocketry and an important pioneer in the decades before the so-called “NewSpace” movement.

(7) RRS Participation with the CALFIRE committee on rocketry

The RRS was invited to attend CALFIRE’s review of the state’s regulations and laws on rocketry. Both the RRS and FAR have been reviewing regulations and preparing suggestions for improvements and clarifications to CALFIRE legislation governing the practice of amateur rocketry in California. The state has been very open to hearing from the amateur rocketry community about ideas and common sense changes that would make regulation better for all participants. Osvaldo has been involved with this activity and will soon schedule a separate meeting for RRS pyro-op’s to share and review our ideas. The CALFIRE committee will meet again in November 2019 and the RRS will offer our views on how the law can best serve the public.

(8) Topics for next meeting

Time ran out in the May meeting. Next month’s agenda will include further discussion about the RRS involvement with the base11 organization and the liquid rocket project (LR101) at Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum (TAM).

Richard Garcia has indicated his interest in getting the first prototype of the RRS standard liquid rocket motor built and tested.

RRS members have been helping different university groups on their liquid rocket projects and we expect to greatly expand our activities in this area as this year unfolds.

Lastly, the quarterly update for the SuperDosa project will have be made at the July 12, 2019, meeting.

Our next meeting of the RRS will be Friday, June 14, 2019. We will likely have something to share from the MTA launch event with UCLA by then. If there are any corrections or additions to be made to this monthly meeting report, please notify the RRS secretary.

secretary@rrs.org


MTA launch, 2019-04-06

Dave Nordling, Secretary, RRS.ORG

The Reaction Research Society (RRS) had another launch event at the Mojave Test Area (MTA). We had a nice cool day for the launch with a little wind. The winter seasonal rains left the land green which was a lovely change to the usual desert brown.

The RRS sign welcomes our guests to the MTA. The winter seasonal rains had turned the land green.
Desert flora in bloom downrange of the RRS MTA

We were pleased to be joined by California State Fire Marshal, Ramiro Rodriguez, who came out to see our amateur rocketry group in action. David Crisalli was our pyro-op for the event and I was glad to apprentice under him once again for this event.

RRS events coordinator, Larry Hoffing; RRS member and pyro-op, Dave Crisalli, California State Fire Marshal, Ramiro Rodriguez; and RRS secretary, Dave Nordling

Also joining us was the students at University of Southern California’s Rocket Propulsion Laboratory (USC RPL). The students had prepared a 6-inch solid motor for static fire test. They were demonstrating an improved carbon-phenolic nozzle design. They arrived the night before and made preparations all morning.

The name of USC’s 6-inch solid motor was “Poise”

USC still had a few more steps to go in their preparations before our other guests from Compton Elementary arrived. LAPD CSP and the RRS were glad to bring another class of young minds to see firsthand a rocket in flight. After all had arrived and settled, we held our safety briefing with our pyro-op, Dave Crisalli.

Students, LAPD officers, USC and the RRS gather in front of the George Dosa building for the safety briefing.
Ramiro relates practical advise on safety to the students of USC RPL.
Everyone safe in the observation bunker. We’re ready to launch.

We had six of our standard alphas made by the kids at Compton Elementary. This launch event is the final day in the educational sessions we do with local schools thanks to our partnership with the LAPD CSP.

5 of the 6 alphas sit in the rack; Osvaldo’s alpha with a parachute sits to the left.

We loaded each of the rockets in the numerical order they were labelled. Each team had their own color scheme to help make them unique. Reds and blues stand out well against the desert browns and green of the brush.

A very well timed shot of an RRS alpha just clearing the box rails.
A not-so well timed shot just a split-second too slow on the shutter.

After the last alpha from Compton Elementary, we launched Osvaldo’s alpha with a parachute recovery system packed in the payload tube. The parachute deployment system has a simple timer circuit that starts when a pin is pulled as the rocket speeds away off the rails. The red flagged plug in the photo is the safety pin to prevent accidental activation of the payload.

Osvaldo’s customized alpha rocket with a parachute recovery system (left in the photo).

Unfortunately, the parachute system didn’t deploy after launch. It’s possible that the timer deployed the parachute too early which the forward pressure against the payload tube may have held the system in place. The other possibility is the timer didn’t start at all. Either way, the recovery of Osvaldo’s rocket had to be done like all the others… with a shovel.

After the last of the alphas fired, LAPD CSP packed up Compton Elementary for the long ride home. The RRS is grateful for the chance to show young people the excitement of rocketry in the Mojave desert.

Dave Crisalli talks wtih USC as they made their solid motor ready for static fire. USC had several cameras ready to record the 11 second firing.
Dave oversees the careful installation of the igniter system into the core of the solid motor.

The USC RPL team was ready after waiting through our fusillade of micrograin alphas. With final preparations made and instrumentation checking out, the installation of the igniter package on the end of a long sacrificial stick was inserted to the proper depth. Standing back and bringing everyone to safety, USC began their countdown.

Still capture from video taken from the RRS MTA blockhouse. The motor ran full duration.
Post hot-fire inspection showed the carbon-phenolic nozzle still in tact.

USC had predicted a peak thrust of 800 lbf and a burn duration of 11 seconds. Actual burn time matched predictions, but thrust levels may have been short of expectations. USC was crunching the data as the RRS moved on to recovery of the alphas from down-range.

We were fortunate to find three of the alphas from the launch event. They were found north-west of the launch site which was unexpected. Another alpha from last year’s event was also found.

One of the three alphas we recovered later in the afternoon.

Osvaldo’s ratcheting extractor tool came in handy once again to avoid the back-breaking work of shoveling out an alpha once it’s found.

Securing the chain links in a circle near the nozzle throat gives the steel cable something to grasp as the ratchet progressively pulls the rocket from the ground in the same direction it entered.
Osvaldo’s alpha with a parachute was one of the alphas we recovered. Sadly, the parachute system did not deploy and the alpha returned ballistically with the parachute still packed inside.

The next RRS meeting will be Friday, April 12th, at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena. This will be our last meeting before the 2019 RRS symposium on Saturday, April 27th. We’ll have more information posted here on RRS.ORG very soon.