by Larry Hoffing, Educational Outreach Coordinator, Reaction Research Society
The Reaction Research Society (RRS.ORG) is glad to be a part of an upcoming event with Spaceport L.A. The “Rocket Workshop with the RRS” is an excellent opportunity for anyone who wants to get directly acquainted with rocketry. This event is meant for both professionals and non-professionals alike. From younger students to university students of all fields, to adults, this event is meant to give people the experience of assembling and flying your own rocket.
The event will begin on Saturday, May 4, 2019 with a subsequent launch of the rockets from the RRS Mojave Test Area (MTA) on Saturday, May 18, 2019. At this event, you can learn about the fundamentals and more practical knowledge of rocketry.
The event will be held at the HexLab MakerSpace in Van Nuys. This is laser-cutting service in the Los Angeles area. Check the Spaceport L.A. website for the details and updates.
The RRS standard alpha rocket is a very old, but reliable design still used in the society. Although micrograin propellant is not used anywhere else but at the RRS (where it was initially discovered in the 1940’s), it is a simple and powerful propellant combination that makes for an impressive show of raw power. I have attached an earlier description of the RRS standard alpha rocket below.
After the first session, on the second event, you can go out to the RRS’s private Mojave Test Area (MTA) at Koehn Dry Lake, east of Cantil, California in the high desert. The RRS will handle the propellants, you can see the impressive results from the safety of our observation bunker.
Amateur rocketry is our passion and purpose and the society is glad to hold this event with Spaceport L.A. and the public.
The RRS met for our February monthly meeting at the EAA 96 hangar at the Compton Airport on Friday night, February 8, at 730pm. The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), Local Chapter 96, was gracious enough to offer their main office boardroom. RRS members, Xavier Marshall and Wilbur Owens were kind enough to even provide food and drinks for our membership and guests. After reading of last month’s treasury report, we agreed to get an update next week as our president (doing the duties of the treasurer) was not able to attend this meeting. After the customary introductions of some of our visiting guests, we began the agenda.
(1) Discussion and task assignments for the 2019 RRS Symposium
The 2019 symposium will take place on Saturday, April 27, 2019. We have confirmed 8 of our 13 speaker slots and are working on building the panel discussion that will happen at the end of the symposium. We will likely soon fill all of our 13 speaker slots for the fourteen 30-minute sessions throughout the day. We have already confirmed several of our past speakers such as Northrop-Grumman and some new presenters such as the Air Force Space and Missile Command.
Frank said that the most important thing that all of our membership and friends can do is to spread the word and circulate our flyers as soon and as much as possible. Having an on-site food provider is in the works and John Mariano has offered to provide his brand, Celebrity Coffee, at the symposium. Based on the rate of (free) ticket sales through Eventbrite, we are on track to have a great symposium. We have 13 exhibitors confirmed and hope to have well over 21 exhibitors (last year’s total) by the time the symposium arrives. We are trying to pace events throughout the day to have a steady stream of participation from morning to afternoon.
Frank will soon be holding regular meetings to get as much of our membership involved with the myriad of tasks necessary to make the event fruitful and exciting. We ask all of our membership to do as much as they can. Ideas are always welcome, but people that can take action are appreciated even more. The RRS will not hold another symposium until 2021, so we would like to put as much of ourselves into this event as we can. Our symposium chairman is Frank Miuccio, please contact him or any of the Executive Council at any time.
(2) Improvements to the RRS social media presence
In the months leading up to the 2019 RRS symposium, the RRS should look at improving our social media presence. One of the things we will do is post different advertising flyer designs on our Instagram and Facebook accounts.
Alastair and Bill have had fruitful discussions on this subject and would like to have recurring monthly spot on the meeting agenda as the RRS social media presence will always remain important in our bid to reach new and old members.
(3) Formation of the 2020 RRS Constitutional Committee
The RRS is an organization that has persisted for a very long time, but periodically, the way we operate has changed over the decades. The last time a review of the RRS Constitution was done was in the 1990’s. Although some amendments have occurred to update our organization, it has been observed that many improvements, clarifications or simple corrections need to be made to reflect how we operate today.
The RRS voted and approved the formation of a three-person Constitutional Committee consisting of one Executive Council member and two people from our regular membership. After a solicitation of our membership at the February meeting, the following people will form this temporary 2020 Constitutional Committee:
Frank Miuccio, Vice President
This 2020 committee will first gather up all known copies and amendments to the RRS constitution. It is important to best establish where we stand before proceeding with the editing process. Frank has much of these records and with this collection of information, the committee will create a new draft of the Constitution. The intent is not to make many (if any) changes so much as to make clarifications of roles and responsibilities in areas that have been vague or entirely absent.
After a great deal of effort, the RRS has updated our membership roster as best as we have been able to do so. We continuously call upon our past and present membership to pay their dues and remain active during this important time. Please contact the RRS treasurer, Chris Lujan, or make your payment to the RRS president, Osvaldo Tarditti.
With the 2019 Symposium around the corner, our priority is to execute the April 27 symposium. Therefore, the 2020 committee will not have to report back to the RRS until our September 13, 2019, meeting. Having the whole of the summer of 2019 should allow the committee to perform the laborious duty of researching and retyping the Constitution in such as manner that makes it clearer. The new draft or 2020 Constitution will then be reviewed numbered paragraph by numbered paragraph to assure a thorough review to approve portions that make sense and discuss others that may require adjustment.
Concerns were expressed about maintaining the requirements of our 501(c)3 educational non-profit organization when it was formed. These are important concerns which will be addressed. The committee will likely need to seek advice from our membership and they certainly will reach out as necessary throughout their working period this year.
This 2020 committee will then present their draft at the September meeting taking specific feedback and returning their final draft at the November 8 meeting. The new “2020” Constitution will then be put to a vote by our active membership. By our articles, this must be approved by a 2/3rd’s majority which may take some time to do. As any changes will largely serve for clarification, this draft of the Constitution, paragraph by paragraph should be able to be approved by the vote taken across our active membership with a deadline of the end of the year, December 31, 2019. Once the 2020 update to the RRS Constitution is approved, all prior drafts will be voided and the committee dissolved. Further, to avoid a permanent state of churn, it was agreed that after approval of the 2020 Constitution, no further amendments will be made for at least one year to allow the society to operate long enough to see where the problems are. A Constitution is a living document, but changes are purposefully not easy to make without a significant consensus of our active membership.
If there are any questions (which I am virtually certain that there will be), please direct them to the RRS Constitutional Committee chairman, Frank Miuccio
(4) Rocket Talk Radio
Alastair Martin has started a pod-cast called “Rocket Talk Radio” which is an hourly program that will talk about selected topics in the rocket business. These topics will be very relevant to the increasingly active world of space exploration. Alastair’s company, Production Tribe LLC, is producing the show to which RRS members, Dave Nordling and Richard Garcia, have agreed to be regular guests on the show. At the first show, we had Waldo Stakes as our first guest. As the show continues, Alastair will have other guests on the show to explore the many number of exciting topics happening today and in the near tomorrow.
Alastair Martin’s company, Production Tribe LLC, will be producing more shows soon and we hope to provide links on our website, RRS.ORG, from time to time. For those seeking ROCKET TALK RADIO, please go to Alastair’s website WATCHHOLLYWOOD.TV at the link below.
The next program is expected to be next week where ROCKET TALK RADIO will discuss the growing market of small launchers.
(5) Paintball Tanks and Regulators Used in Amateur Rocketry
Cameron Harrington is both a student at California Polytechnic State University in Pomona and a sponsored competitive paintball sportsman. After having some very interesting discussions about these commercially available, robust and mass-produced high pressure tanks and regulators, it is clear that they can be useful in building a simple pressure-fed liquid rocket. Ninja is one popular brand of these tanks and regulators used in paintball guns. The 4500 psi composite-overwrapped pressure vessels hold a finite volume (e.g. 77 cubic inches) of compressed nitrogen gas better suited for pressurizing fuel tanks. The Ninja Pro V2 regulator is adjustable by internal shims to allow a finite range of discharge pressures (350, 450, 550 psi etc) which work in small liquid rocket engines.
Cameron gave the society a brief overview of his experience with this hobby sport equipment and his experience in building a liquid rocket system. The society is considering buying a few of these devices for liquid rocket prototypes that will ultimately lead to a standardized design that the society can use and offer to other universities seeking a common-sense plan to flying a liquid rocket.
(6) Ramiro Rodriguez, Deputy State Fire Marshal, CAL FIRE
The RRS was happy to be visited by Ramiro Rodriguez, Deputy State Fire Marshall with the California State Fire Marshal’s office (CAL FIRE). Deputy Rodriguez has been with CAL FIRE for over 19 years and largely supports Fireworks and the Motion Picture industry. He is glad to visit with amateur rocketry groups to see what our concerns and needs are. CAL FIRE has been busy streamlining and examining their processes to better serve the public and groups such as ours who benefit from CAL FIRE..
Amateur rocketry, much like with hobby rocketry, is governed by the state laws and regulations concerning fireworks. The four primary duties of CAL FIRE are prevention, engineering, education and enforcement. They train fire departments and fire service professionals. They also are responsible for resource management in the state of California such as forestry and watershed projects. They are the licensing authority for all 12 classes of pyrotechnic operators including the 3 classes of rocketry pyro-op’s. Ramiro answered questions by our membership and attendees.
Pyro-op’s must be 21 years old, have a clean criminal record and must submit an application to the state with five letters of recommendation from active pyro-op’s at or above the class level that they are applying. CAL FIRE is willing to accept expired pyro-op licenses as long as that license hasn’t lapsed more than a year. This is a common problem in many groups that pyro-ops allow their licenses to lapse out of financial necessity or simple neglect. The RRS is very active in our goals to acquire and advance more pyro-ops not only for our society, but for the amateur rocketry community at large.
Ramiro read some statistics from CAL FIRE’s database, that there are only 10 active first-class rocketry pyro-ops in the entire state of California. Only 10 active second-class rocketry pyro-ops and 34 active third-class pyro-ops remain throughout the large expanse of the Golden State. Concern has been raised by the amateur rocketry community about the difficulty in acquiring five active and relevant signatories when pyro-op’s want to advance their level. CAL FIRE is considering ways of making this process easier to do as they would like to see an increase in the number of rocketry pyro-ops in the state of California. The obvious solution is to require a lesser number of signatories for applicants, but CAL FIRE has not made a decision on exactly what they intend to do.
Concern was also expressed regarding the necessity of the two-year waiting period between achieving rocketry classes. Some applicants have a large amount of experience either professionally or in activities with their society. Ramiro had said that CAL FIRE does have some discretionary authority to recognize significant experience in proving an applicant suitable to advance to the next level, but he underscored the importance of log sheets and the responsibility of all pyro-ops and trainees to take accurate clear records of the work that they do. Put simply, the more familiar CAL FIRE is with your activities, the easier it becomes for them to evaluate you.
This is a rich subject which many more had other questions, but given the late hour, we concluded by appreciating Ramiro’s time and was happy to make his acquaintance. The RRS and CAL FIRE have had a long, positive relationship and hope to continue to do so. The RRS has extended an invitation to Ramiro or another deputy from CAL FIRE to come visit our private testing site when we will hold another event on April 6th with the student of Crenshaw Elementary with the LAPD CSP.
We also gave CAL FIRE an electronic file of our 2019 RRS Symposium flyer and have invited CAL FIRE to be a presenter and/or exhibitor at the Symposium.
(X1) Experimental Aircraft Association, Local Chapter 96
The RRS was happy to have our February 2019 meeting hosted by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 96 at the Compton Airport. Xavier Marshall is both an RRS member and the vice president of the EAA 96. The EAA 96 is encouraging hobbyists such as those in the RRS to become members as we have many areas of common interest. Aircraft and rockets require hands-on machining skills which the EAA 96 is willing to share with new members. To become a member of the EAA 96, you must join both the national and local chapter. Right now (but discount offer soon to expire) they are offering 3-years of membership for only $99 which covers both the local and national membership.
Xavier gave the RRS and visiting students from Cal Poly Pomona a tour of their machine shop which has a large lathe, a horizontal and vertical mill. The hangar is accessible to members 24/7 and the EAA has many members happy to help those needing to learn practical machining skills. This is a great opportunity for many of the RRS who do not have regular access to machining. The RRS is largely about making our own custom parts and the EAA 96 is an excellent resource to help.
For questions about joining the EAA 96, please contact Xavier Marshall or Wilbur Owens
(X2) Visit to the Rocket Lab at Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum
Given the late hour, we were unable to take our society membership and visitors on a tour of the Rocket Lab at Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum. Waldo Stakes has been very active in this project to bring a small group of Compton locals to build a small liquid rocket of their own. On display at the meeting was a Rocketdyne NA-LR-101 liquid vernier rocket motor that they hope to static fire at the RRS MTA. This 1000-lbf kerosene/liquid oxygen rocket has been commonly used in past amateur rocketry projects due to its robust design, however, as these surplus motors are becoming more scarce, it is important to appreciate having such an asset for learning. The RRS is happy to help the Compton group with their goals in flying this motor in a future design.
It was suggested that the RRS hold their March 8th meeting at Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum at the Rocket Lab. Although this is a fine suggestion, the RRS had planned to return to our regular location at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena. That being said, the RRS would like to schedule an event at the Rocket Lab very soon. The RRS will let our membership know when this visit to the Rocket Lab can be scheduled.
(X3) Upcoming testing events at the RRS MTA
As was mentioned a little earlier, the RRS has set a new class with the students of Crenshaw Elementary School through the LAPD CSP. The first class will start on Friday, March 1, and run each Friday until the launch event we will hold at the RRS Mojave Test Area (MTA) on April 6th.
The RRS classes continue to be very popular and we are glad to share our hobby and passion for rocketry and learning.
RRS member, Michael Lunny, has been working with his local high school, Redondo Union, were they intend to enter rocketry competition to launch a rocket payload with 3 eggs and subsequently land it by parachute. We hope they can come visit the RRS at the next meeting on March 8th. Redondo has expressed interest in launching at the MTA in late March.
(X4) Groups wanting to test at the RRS MTA
For all groups interested in working with the RRS or with testing or launching from our Mojave Test Area, please download and fill out our Standard Record Form from the RRS.ORG website under “Membership” tab, then under “Forms”. All requests must be filled out with a complete set of contact information and a full description of the testing. The most important thing is to declare your test date and hold to this date as resources have to be scheduled. All requests must be submitted to the RRS president for the society to review.
Our next meeting will be on Friday, March 8th, at our usual meeting location at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena. If there are any questions, please let the RRS secretary know:
The Reaction Research Society (RRS) held its final monthly meeting of our 75th anniversary year, 2018, on our usual 2nd Friday, December 14th.
We were glad to be visited by Waldo Stakes, Curator of the Saxon Museum in Boron, California, and well-known rocket car maker. Wilbur Owens was kind enough to bring Waldo to the meeting.
Wilbur Owens and Waldo Stakes at the December 2018 RRS meeting in Gardena, newly elected RRS treasurer, Chris Lujan looks on
The agenda for December was kept short as the RRS wanted to take some time to celebrate our accomplishments this year.
After coming to order and the reading of the treasury report, we began the shortened agenda.
The results of the elections were announced by email from our election chairman, Larry Hoffing, who could not attend. The full slate of officer candidates were voted unanimously with no write-in’s.
The RRS officers for 2019 are as follows:
President – Osvaldo Tarditti
Vice President – Frank Miuccio
Secretary – Dave Nordling
Treasurer – Chris Lujan
We thank our appointed election chairman, Larry, for his service.
The newly elected officers will start their new terms at the beginning of the calendar year. All of our appointed positions at the RRS remain the same as the executive council has voted to retain them. We are thankful to all of our new and continuing membership for making this an important milestone year for the society.
The next topic was to discuss the UCLA hot fire event at the MTA in November. Osvaldo was very impressed with the UCLA team in how well they communicated and their preparation for a safe hot-fire test. Despite having an earlier setback, they recovered to have a hot-fire in the early night hours that gave them valuable data for their next design iteration. The RRS is glad to support university groups with our testing site. It is great when everyone puts safety and organization first.
Osvaldo reads off the list of events we conducted at the RRS over this anniversary year, 2018; Michael Lunny looks on
The RRS has had other university groups express interest in using our Mojave Test Area (MTA). To any groups wanting to use the RRS MTA, please contact the RRS president by email.
We also appreciate each group filling out our RRS standard record form to help explain the basics of what they would like to accomplish. The standard record form can be found under “Forms” on the RRS website.
The last of the scheduled agenda topics was the announcement of the official date of the 2019 RRS symposium. The symposium will be held on Saturday, April 27, 2019, at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena. As before, we will have entire first floor and outdoor courtyard.
The 2019 RRS symposium will be held on Saturday, April 27, 2019
The RRS has had great success in getting a range of speakers from industry, academia and government agencies. We plan to invite the Navy China Lake, Air Force Space and Missile Center, NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center, Northrop Grumman, Relativity and the Additive Rocket Corporation just to name a few, as well as several of our local and regional university rocketry groups such as UCLA, USC, Cal Poly Pomona, CSULB and LMU just to name a few. In the new year as invitations go out and we get confirmation, we will update our agenda for the April symposium. We hope to have an even larger turnout both on our stage, at the exhibition and of course our public audience.
The RRS will be holding a 2-hour panel session as the final event in our speaker series. The RRS is working on building this panel from a good cross-section of industry, government and academia to look at the state of affairs in space today and looking ahead to what may come next as the industry expands.
To those who stayed to the end last year, we were provided a rare treat by former member Bill Claybaugh as he presented his assessment of the current aerospace industry. We would strongly encourage everyone to plan to stay the full day as we will be bringing out more special things as the day goes on.
This topic was on the original agenda, but we thought we wouldn’t have time. RRS member, Alastair Martin, through his company, Production Tribe, is starting a pod-cast called Rocket Talk Radio. RRS director of research, Richard Garcia, and the RRS secretary, Dave Nordling, have agreed to be the first guests on this pod-cast that will talk about current topics in space and rocketry. As the first few podcasts are made, he’ll look to have other guests, to talk for an hour over a range of questions posed by Alastair and the participating audience.
Osvaldo went over the long list of events we held at the RRS starting with the Aerospace Corporation launch test of their prototype liquid-hybrid rocket motor, the three launch events we held through the LAPD Community Safety Partnership (CSP) program where we were able to engage 112 kids in the at-risk communities of Watts in Los Angeles. Both USC and UCLA had a lot of success in their respective rocket programs.
Although USC did have a major setback in their Traveller III flight, they are well positioned for a very successful flight on their long journey to be the first university group to break the von Karman line into space with their boosted dart. The RRS is glad to be recurring partner with USC by assisting with their ground testing needs.
UCLA has also had a successful year with their liquid rocket programs and the RRS is glad to continue our support.
New RRS member, Dmitri Timohovich, and myself journeyed out to the MTA on December 2 for a site improvement project to mount the new road sign we had made. As I was feeling very under the weather on that afternoon, Dmitri did a stellar job in helping the society put a visible marker at our big iron gate leading the way into the RRS Mojave Test Area (MTA). The RRS thanks Dmitri for his hard work for the society.
Dmitri Timohovich makes short work of digging post holes with his motorized auger machine.
The new RRS sign at the first iron gate to the Mojave Test Area ready to greet the next visitors
RRS member, Jack Oswald, presented his current progress with his large solid motor building project. His team have been working hard this year having some successes and failures, but always learning. His new ballistic evaluation motor design will correct some of the prior deficiencies in the earlier design and is expected to produce high quality results that should finalize his motor design. Jack and his team from the former Chaminade rocketry group have made a lot of progress and have also helped me with my smaller BEM design. Based on our conversation at the December meeting, I think I will have to re-visit some of my assumptions. Many thanks to Jack and his team’s hard work in supporting the society with their ambitious goals.
RRS director of research, Richard Garcia, was not able to attend the December meeting, but he did provide a progress update for the RRS standard liquid project. His injector and chamber design is nearly finished and seems to have all the right features to proceed with build. The injector design is based on a previous design used by the RRS in past liquid rocket projects. He is also re-using his ablative chamber liner feature for this smaller 125-lbf LOX-ethanol engine design. His analytical model of the propellant blowdown system seem to anchor his predictions for what will hopefully be a successful hot fire test in this coming new year, 2019. The RRS is working hard to anchor a reliable and simple to build liquid rocket engine system that university groups can use for liquid rocket competitions in the future without having to start completely from scratch. We will provide updates as this project advances.
Richard also brought up the idea of building a rocket sculpture to the right of our big iron gate at the MTA. The society welcomed the idea and we hope to bring this concept to life sometime very soon.
Richard Garcia’s rocket sculpture concept; soon to be seen at the RRS MTA
Lastly, Frank was presented with a Community Service award by the Los Angeles Women Police Officers and Associates (LAWPOA) to honor the continuing work of the Reaction Research Society with the LAPD CSP. It is with great pleasure that the RRS accepts this recognition and reaffirms our commitment to this strong program that has done a lot of good for the young minds we hope to inspire.
Bill Janczewski holds up the LAWPOA Community Service award presented to the Reaction Research Society; I think I caught Frank a little off-guard in this photo? He was very pleased.
Our next monthly meeting will be on Friday, January 11, 2019. For an update on our intended agenda for each meeting, check the RRS.ORG website under the “Forum” section.
We look forward to starting the new year with preparations for the 2019 symposium and we will need our full membership to help make this event an even greater success.
Also, the RRS is talking about holding one of our monthly meetings at the Tomorrow’s Museum at the Compton Airport. Also, Jack Oswald has been working on getting tours of The Boring Company in Hawthorne and the Point Mugu Naval Base sometime in the new year.
The RRS wishes everyone happy holidays and a happy new year.