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

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.

RRS presents at Mars City PowerLab 2017

Mars City Foundation has introduced the Power Lab for this year, 2017, to help the Mars generation develop the skills and build the tools and technology necessary for this important time and mission.

Starting August 1st, the Power Lab is a two week long “science retreat” where students will have the opportunity to explore ideas in a workshop with experts from NASA and with other technical organizations giving cross-disciplinary expertise for PowerLab attendees to begin tangibly building the technology and tools to build mankind’s future life on Mars.

Mars City Foundation

Mars City Design

RRS vice president, Frank Miuccio presented on the third day of the workshop at the University of Southern California (USC) with a presentation on the “Past, Present and Future of the RRS”. The RRS was glad to share some of our history and present endeavors and aspirations for our society.

PowerLab attendees inspect an RRS standard alpha rocket

Frank also showed the video of George Garboden’s altitude record setting amateur rocket launch back in November 23, 1996 at Black Rock, Nevada.  

RRS presents to the PowerLab attendees

Frank closed the presentation with an update on the SuperDosa project to reclaim the amateur altitude record for the RRS. The students had many questions and was interested in the many things that the RRS was doing.

The RRS is glad to continue our support of the Mars City Foundation and we hope to be present for other Mars City events in the future. The RRS thanks Vera Mulyani for inviting the society to be a part of the PowerLab event.

For any questions regarding the RRS, please contact Frank Miuccio:

For questions regarding Mars City PowerLab, visit the Mars City Foundation website:
Mars City Foundation