MTA launch event, 2017-03-25

The RRS was pleased to host a launch event at our Mojave Test Area (MTA) for the Girls Academic Leadership Academy (GALA) of L.A. USD on Saturday, March 25, 2017. The event had an excellent turnout.

GALA at the MTA, panorama

GALA students on the MTA observation deck

Longtime member Dave Crisalli was our pyro-op for the event and I was able to serve as his assistant in conducting the launch of twelve alphas and a beta rocket.

Dave Crisalli

Osvaldo and Dave

If anyone else has photos of the event that they’d like to share, please email me:

Before we got started, we had a safety briefing showing how launch will take place and what to do before, during and after firing. To give an appreciation for the propellants commonly used in amateur rocketry, at a safe distance, we burned a sample of the micrograin.

John Mariano addresses the group

sample micrograin propellant burning

And a composite grain that Larry made for the demonstration

composite grain, before and after

AP composite grain, sample burn

We had 12 alphas and 1 beta for launch. GALA did a great job in painting their rockets. The bright colors not only distinguished one from the other, but they also made finding them downrange by their tailfins in the desert much easier to do. GALA also was wise to number their rockets. We took good notes on the flight times of each (35-38 seconds which is typical). With the wind noise, it wasn’t always possible to hear the faint thump. GALA did well in keeping quiet after launch to hear the thump and figure the direction where it was heard.

GALA rockets ready for launch

alpha launch rails facing out to the gate

GALA ready for launch

alpha launch 03-25-2017

Osvaldo equipped the last of the 12 alphas (all the way to the right in the photo below) with another fin-mounted keychain camera similar to what was done at the November 2016 launch event. Alas, it was not to be, the camera was destroyed and no footage was captured.

12 alphas laying in the rack

The beta was without payload except for the wooden adapter and a plastic Easter egg half as a nose cone. A buzzer and a strobe device was mounted to the beta fins in hopes to be better able to locate the vehicle in the search. Unfortunately, the beta, too was lost. No sound of impact was heard.

alphas and a beta (upside down)

Loading the beta into the rack

RRS beta launch 2017-03-25

Dr. Mitchell Spearrin of UCLA came by the event to tour the MTA as the RRS looks forward to working UCLA on their upcoming projects. Dr. Spearrin brought an Estes Ascender model rocket of his own to test at the MTA with a commercial F-motor. At the end of the GALA rockets, the model rocket was launched. I didn’t get any photos. I believe the winds carried the light rocket pretty far east of the MTA site. I understand that the rocket wasn’t able to be recovered.

Estes Ascender

Several of the alpha rockets launched by GALA were able to be recovered through hard work and sweat. I think of the 12 launches, 7 were recovered? An excellent job by the GALA team in finding and recovering a lot of the hardware.

GALA recovers an alpha

GALA alpha extracted

The RRS wants to thank GALA for their participation and hope they enjoyed the day as we did! We hope to have GALA come back for another event. Also, many thanks to Don Purpurra for contributing his photos of the event. The shots of the alphas and betas he took were incredible!
GALA Academy

If any other schools or groups are interested in participating in one of our build events, please contact our events coordinator, Larry Hoffing:

blockhouse view with the launch button gear

Our next RRS meeting will be Friday, April 14, 2017, at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena, CA. This will be the last meeting before the RRS symposium which will be held Saturday, April 22nd at the same meeting location in Gardena. We encourage all of our participants to come by the Friday, April 14th meeting in advance of the symposium.

There will be speakers and an exhibition hall with universities and groups from government and private companies in attendance.

the latest RRS symposium flyer

Our latest flyer is linked here for download. Please share and post!
rrs symposium flyer 320

We also have tickets to the symposium being offered through an Eventbrite link given below. The event is free. We encourage everyone who’s interested in coming to sign up as this helps us get a better idea of how many people are coming.
Eventbrite – RRS symposium (free to register)

If I missed anything or if anything is misstated, please contact me:

UCLA Tin Can project, CoDR

The RRS was glad to participate in the Conceptual Design Review (CoDR) of UCLA’s Tin Can project on Wednesday night, March 1st. This project will have UCLA build a liquid bi-propellant rocket to be flown in competition with other schools at the Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR) site just south of the RRS Mojave Test Area (MTA).

FAR website, Launch Contest

Richard Garcia, RRS director of research

Dave Nordling, RRS secretary

The goal is to reach a specific target altitude using a liquid bi-propellant propulsion system (45,000 ft target, 30,000 ft minimum) with a minimum payload weight (1 kg) provided by FAR that includes an altitude tracking device. The winner will get $50K and the contest is jointly sponsored by the Mars Society. The UCLA team has already been organized with requirements documents provided and subsystem leads designated. Propellant selection was made (RP-1 and nitrous oxide) and the basic design parameters were set for this pressure-fed rocket.

The RRS has offered to support UCLA in the design and testing of key subsystems including propulsion at the RRS MTA. The RRS is thankful for the invitation to share our experience in this ambitious project and we look forward to working with UCLA in the coming months as the project advances to the preliminary design phase and beyond.

UCLA rocket project for IREC

The RRS was glad to participate in the Critical Design Review held at UCLA Boelter Hall. UCLA is preparing for the upcoming Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (IREC) to be held at Spaceport America in New Mexico on June 20-24, 2017.

CDR for UCLA’s IREC project

UCLA will be flying a 10-foot long, 6-inch diameter rocket to an altitude of 10,000 (+/- 2,000) feet carrying a payload at least 8.8 lbm in weight meeting ESRA standards for the competition. The rocket uses an M-class commercial hybrid motor with three solid motors in parallel. After covering all major systems (structures, propulsion and electronics) over the course of the day, we took a tour of UCLA’s rocket laboratory in the basement of Boelter Hall.

UCLA rocket lab tour

We thank Dr. Mitchell Spearrin for his invitation and hope to work with UCLA on testing their IREC rocket design in the near future at the MTA before the competition in June.

Dr. Mitchell Spearrin, UCLA MAE Dept.