April 2019 meeting

The RRS held our monthly meeting on April 12, 2019 at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena. We had a full agenda with the 2019 RRS symposium just around the corner on Saturday, April 27th.

The symposium is just around the corner

We first welcomed two new members, Keith Yoerg and Jonathan Martinez. Keith is active with Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum (TAM) at the Compton Airport and has given many educational programs to local schools. He’s also a graduate of USC and a former member of their Rocket Propulsion Laboratory (RPL). Jonathan Martinez joins the RRS as a student member from Compton High School. He’s been working at TAM and the RRS hopes to help him in his new project to hot-fire a liquid rocket.

Keith Yoerg (left) watches Waldo Stakes (right) show off the gas generator injector he brought to the meeting.
New RRS member, Jonathan Martinez (left) and Wilbur Owens (right) at the April 2019 meeting of the RRS.

We next talked about the recent launch event with LAPD CSP and Compton Elementary. The “Rockets in the Projects” program is going strong and we were glad to welcome Compton Elementary to our workspace and launchpad in the Mojave Desert.

Dave Crisalli, our pyro-op for the event, gives the safety briefing to all attendees including Compton Elementary, LAPD and USC RPL

Under very pleasant weather, we had a good launch event starting with a tour, safety briefing and the kids finally getting a chance to see their rockets fly into the blue sky. Osvaldo had a seventh alpha rocket with a parachute system, but somehow failed to deploy. USC static-fired a six-inch custom solid motor.

An alpha assembled at Compton Elementary streaks away from the box rails at the RRS MTA
USC’s six-inch solid composite grain motor burns for full duration at the RRS MTA. A second motor will be integrated into the Traveller IV vehicle that USC will launch from Spaceport America in New Mexico

After Compton Elementary and LAPD CSP went home, Osvaldo, Frank, Larry and I did a little reconnaissance for the alphas we flew at the event. We were able to find 3 of the original 6 and one more alpha from the past MTA launch event. The higher level winds have been carrying the alphas in a more northerly direction west of the launch rails. For reference, Osvaldo recorded the following coordinates for one of the alphas found: 35* 21′ 16.83″ North, 117* 48′ 50.03″ West.

Using the local wildflowers, Larry marks the location of a newly recovered alpha from the last MTA launch event

The 2019 RRS symposium was the next topic. We have over 300 Eventbrite tickets sold at the time of the meeting. The symposium has confirmed a full roster of speakers including AFRL Edwards AFB, Northrop-Grumman, USAF SMC. We decided not to hold the panel discussion this year. The symposium will start at 8:45AM on Saturday, April 27th.

Frank Miuccio goes over the preparations for the 2019 RRS symposium to be held on Saturday, April 27, 2019

The Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena will allow us to set up the night before (4/26/19) at 7pm until they close at 9pm. There’s a lot of work to be done and we hope all of our membership can come out on Friday and help us with setting up tables and hanging the sign outside.

We also hope all of our membership can help at the symposium on Saturday (4/27/2019) as well. The Ken Nakaoka Community Center opens at 8AM, we will have just a little bit of time to get ready before the event begins at 8:45am with our RRS president, Osvaldo Tarditti, giving the introductory presentation.

RRS member group photo from last year’s 75th anniversary symposium (1943-2018)

The next topic of discussion at the April 2019 meeting was facility improvements at the RRS MTA. The society has decided to invest in upgrading our blockhouse and building a new restroom facility at the site for better creature comfort for the increasing number of guests we’re having each year. Osvaldo has been working up the plans for these two facility improvements and will get bids very soon.

We also hope to solicit donations from the public at the symposium to help the society reach our goals for these facility improvement projects. To anyone wishing to make a monetary donation to the RRS, you can use the “DONATE” button on the RRS.ORG homepage which connects to Paypal. Please leave us a note and accept our thanks. The society is striving to improve our facilities as we prepare to have more events this year.

Osvaldo also told us more about the RRS participating with CALFIRE in their review of the state laws governing amateur rocketry. Members of the Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR) organization have also been working with CALFIRE on this important committee. It is the goal of the RRS to inform the public and governing agencies on ways to make the law reasonable, practical and just to the amateur rocketry as we uphold our commitment to public safety. CALFIRE has been very supportive of our hobby and we are building stronger relationships with the State of California and our fellow rocketry organizations.

Dave Crisalli (RRS member), Larry Hoffing (RRS events coordinator), Ramiro Rodriguez (CALFIRE) and Osvaldo Tarditti (RRS president) at the RRS MTA launch event on 4/6/2019

Discussion on our last topic on the agenda was about the RRS’s participation with the base11 project. We were not able to talk about this subject in much detail as closing time had fast approached. As an educational non-profit group, the RRS has a charter to support university groups. The base11 project is very ambitious in its goal of student-run teams building and flying a liquid rocket to an altitude of 100 km or higher. This multi-year program will be a challenge on many levels both financial and technical. The RRS is happy to support the base11 Space Challenge at the RRS MTA.

The RRS is proud to support teams for the Base11 Space Challenge

The remaining agenda topics will be covered in next month’s meeting including the quarterly progress update on the SuperDosa project and the RRS partnership with Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum (TAM).

The Reaction Research Society meets the 2nd Friday of each month at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena, California, at 7:30pm.

The RRS is very exciting about the projects we have planned for this summer. Our next monthly meeting will be Friday, May 10th, 2019 at 7:30pm.


July 2017 meeting

The RRS held its monthly meeting last night on July 14, 2017 at our usual spot at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena, CA. We got started a little late, but we covered all of our agenda items.

We have two new members, Drew Cortopassi and Alastair Martin, joining the RRS. Both were in attendance at the meeting and we were glad to have them join us.

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Larry gave us an update on the RRS alpha build event we’re doing with the students of Jordan Downs in Watts. John Mariano gave his presentation last week and Larry has started the build event portion. This event has been sponsored by the Los Angeles Police Department’s Community Safety Partnership (CSP) which will be bringing a lot of talented kids from the inner city of Los Angeles. Local television crews filmed the event and the final day of painting of the student rockets is happening today. We hope to have the video spot on our YouTube channel very soon.

Jordan Downs build event with the RRS

LAPD CSP – About Us page

The students from Jordan Downs will launch 10 alpha rockets with one more alpha launched by LAPD. It will be a great day next Saturday, July 22nd, at the MTA.

Jordan Downs alpha rockets painted and ready

To any school or private group that would like to conduct a rocket build event with the RRS, please contact us at:
events@rrs.org

I will be launching an alpha of my own at the event with a PVC payload section. Our director of research, Richard Garcia, and RRS treasurer, Chris Lujan, were helping me with some payload issues I’m resolving.

Dave Crisalli has also been working with students at the Chaminade College Preparatory School in Chatsworth, CA. They have built a solid rocket motor to test at the MTA on the July 22nd event. Dave was a graduate of Chaminade and has been our pyro-op on many MTA launch events.

Chaminade College Preparatory School

Our discussion moved to the details of managing the upcoming launch event at our Mojave Test Area (MTA) on next Saturday, July 22nd. This is a private event, but we host these with many students, universities and private individuals with our membership.

We had discussed how the launches should be conducted as early as possible to avoid what will likely be an oppressively hot summer day for our young students. All of our invited attendees should make an extra effort to be at the MTA by 10:00AM, which means leaving the city before 7:00AM. There were also concerns related to safety once we get into launch mode. Once the safety briefing is conducted (likely around 11:00AM) and all people are moved into the observation bunker, the roads will be closed to traffic. No one will be allowed in or out until the last volley is fired as is our policy.

Attendees at the MTA are recommended to wear hats and sunscreen at all times. Bring as much ice and water as you can. And most importantly…drink this water and fluids as often as possible. Many people don’t know they have become dehydrated until after the ill-effects set in (then its too late). Drink often even if you don’t feel like it.

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I gave a short update on the SuperDosa project. We have decided to build a ballistic evaluation motor (BEM) to have the ability to conduct propellant evaluation tests. There are a few different approaches to getting accurate burn rate data, but I felt that the BEM approach would be the most beneficial despite the added complexity. Osvaldo has the plate and round stock I bought for this small but tough little test rig. Richard Garcia is working on the dust recovery and ducting to restart his graphite machining capabilities. I hope to get a few nozzle pucks made and hopefully begin testing this fall.

RRS ballistic evaluation motor design concept

More work in trajectory and performance modelling needs to be done. The details on the initial SuperDosa design are still a bit in flux. Neither Richard nor I had any progress to report on this front.

The discussion moved to propellant procurement. We are looking at acquiring some AP oxidizer which shouldn’t be a problem. The HTPB binder chemical, however, has really climbed up in cost. PBAN is another option we’re considering. Someone mentioned asphalt was used in the early days, but it’s not clear what the disadvantages are.

We had briefly discussed making rocket candy just for the initial samples to test and qualify the BEM test rig. It was decided that Chris Lujan would cook a small batch of sugar/KNO3 at the MTA and pour into some 3/4″ PVC sample cases. I hope to be able to document the process and present this in a report. This is a common mixture, but the purpose is to help more people become better at this task. Many of our members have experience in making the rocket candy mixture, but it helps to standardize the process and always watch out for safety issues.

MIT student, Sean Austin, was in attendance at the meeting. He had mentioned his university lab had built a strand-burner to test propellant samples. They had a lot of issues getting reliable test results, but he was happy to share their design with the RRS. A strand burner design is simpler to make and if the RRS has the right materials and tools, we may build a strand burner to supplement our BEM.

Richard Nakka’s rocketry page has a lot of great details on this subject of solid propellant burn rate testing methods and data collection.

strand burner
Nakka – strand burner test rig

ballistic evaluation motor
Nakka – BEM concept illustration

solid propellant, burn rate testing, in general
Nakka – burn rate testing in general

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Four members from the UCLA IREC team came to present their results from this year’s competition at Spaceport America north of Las Cruces, New Mexico. The rocket launch competition is supported by universities across the country and the event is managed by the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association (ESRA).
2017 IREC competition – Spaceport America

I had asked UCLA to come show us the fruits of their team’s hard work done at the RRS MTA. UCLA had some issues resolved, but ran into other problems at the launch site. Heat was a factor which resulted in the payload computers not working. A great deal was learned and UCLA will surely leverage these lessons into next year’s build.

UCLA presents IREC results to the RRS

UCLA presents IREC results to the RRS

The RRS would like to thank UCLA students, Nakul Gupta, Caleb Lessard, Edward Shen and Nick Knenning for presenting. The RRS looks forward to continuing our support of UCLA and other universities as they advance their rocket projects.

The UCLA Rocket Project will conduct more cold flow testing of their liquid rocket systems at the RRS MTA at the July 22nd event, but priority will be given to the student alpha launches to conduct the events as early in the day to avoid the hottest hours at the site.

Also, in attendance at the meeting was MIT student, Sam Austin. Sam is in Los Angeles this summer on an internship with Northrop Grumman. Sam was part of the MIT team at the IREC competition and related some of his team’s results. MIT did well taking 2nd place, but as always, there are new things to learn or things to do better. Sam had indicated interest in attending the upcoming launch at the MTA. We hope he’ll become a student member of the RRS to do so.

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The RRS history project continues as our current membership has been reaching out to our founders and other members from the earliest days of the society. We hope to share some of this with our readers and members very soon. Frank had found another set of RRS newsletters from 1989-1991 which he gave to Richard Garcia, our director of research, for scanning and archiving.

As always, if anyone has any RRS or related literature that they would like to offer to be scanned for the society, please let Richard know:
research@rrs.org

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I had presented the general topic of how to generate more revenue for the society. The RRS is funded by our membership in the form of dues, donated time to support events, monetary and material donations and such. I wanted to solicit ideas about how the RRS can pursue other avenues to bring in more funds to better support the programs we have and the new programs we hope to do soon.

One classic idea is to produce RRS-logo branded things like T-shirts, coffee cups, even metal rulers. I have seen older RRS branded items in the past and although the profit margins can be thin, it’s a fine fund-raising idea to consider. John Mariano had a few other ideas for fund-raising he brought up in a previous meeting this year.

The RRS is looking at grant programs both in the private sector and with government agencies. The RRS is a 501(c)3 educational non-profit group which has had success with several schools already and we intend to expand our outreach as we find schools and organizations able to help us bring the joy of rocketry. Donations from private companies and individuals is another avenue we’ll pursue. If anyone has any specific programs or ideas in mind, please contact the RRS vice president, Frank Miuccio.
vicepresident@rrs.org

One idea I had which was accepted was to publish an issue of the RRS Astrojet newsletter on our 75th anniversary on January 7, 2018. Although the RRS has not published a paper newsletter in quite some time, it was a popular item in its day. The newsletter would be the same 12 page format used throughout our history with articles from many of our members including George James, George Dosa and others as we bring this idea home. The 75th anniversary Astrojet newsletter will only be available in print and delivered by mail for a nominal price ($10?) to help fund the RRS’s growing activities.

Another idea put forth was to attempt the rocket mail flights done in the early days of the society. More thought and discussion would be necessary to see how feasible this would be, but I liked the idea?

The RRS may look to have some corporate sponsorship of the 75th anniversary symposium if this is possible.

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Frank made the announcement of the upcoming 75th anniversary RRS symposium on April 14, 2018. This will be a public event at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center where we will have speakers from universities, government agencies and private companies.

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Frank also mentioned that he’ll be taking a trip to JPL with RRS founder, George James, later this month. Besides a tour, the RRS hopes to have a conversation with the K-12 education outreach coordinator at JPL on this visit. Frank will post an update on the website after this event.

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We adjourned late, 9:20PM, well after the 9PM closing time, but we covered a lot. If there is anything I missed or misstated, please contact me at my RRS email below.
secretary@rrs.org

For those desiring to apply to join the RRS, either as full members or as student members, download our RRS membership application form from this website and send it to the RRS by email or our post office box in Los Angeles.
president@rrs.org

Reaction Research Society
P.O. Box 90933
Los Angeles, CA, 90009-0933

Our next meeting will be August 11, 2017, at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center.

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May 2017 meeting

The RRS monthly meeting was held May 12, 2017. We started at 7:41pm.

The RRS was glad to welcome LAPD Southeast officers Acuna and Terrazas from the Community Safety Partnership (CSP). The nationally recognized CSP program has been very successful in improving community relations in areas of Los Angeles and the RRS is discussing how to bring one of our classes to students in Watts this summer.

LAPD Community Safety Partnership

We had a few parents stop in the meeting with their kids also interested in working with the RRS and learning more about membership with our society.

To all groups interested in working with the RRS, our contact is:
events@rrs.org

The RRS was glad to welcome several new student members from UCLA and a few new full members this month. We had a launch event on April 29th that helped UCLA test several of their technologies in advance of the 2017 IREC competition at the First Annual Spaceport America Cup in New Mexico.
2017 IREC competition – Spaceport America

For those interesting in applying for membership with the RRS, our application form is available on our RRS.ORG website under “FORMS”.

RRS.ORG – FORMS, membership

The RRS will hold a launch event at the MTA on June 3rd. UCLA will launch a pair of RRS standard alphas and betas with a few smaller carbon-fiber and fiberglass rockets with 1 lb air-frames and F50 motors. This launch event is the culmination of the undergraduate class, MAE 157A, which is a fluid dynamics and aerodynamics instructional laboratory for the Spring 2017 Quarter at UCLA led by Professor R. Mitchell Spearrin. The RRS is glad to support UCLA in giving university students a place to demonstrate their hands-on knowledge.

UCLA MAE instructional labs

Drew Cortopassi of the Aerospace Corporation paid us a visit. Aerospace Corporation is interested in conducting some tests with the RRS at the Mojave Test Area. Once a formal written request is submitted to the RRS, the society will examine the best way to proceed.

For any private organizations wanting to work with the RRS, please contact the RRS, president, Osvaldo Tarditti.
president@rrs.org

This month, a member managed to acquire a cryogenic LNG tank that would be very useful asset at the MTA. The RRS is working on the logistics for bringing this new acquisition to the MTA for use in future liquid propulsion projects.

The SuperDosa project update will have to wait for next month’s meeting as we ran out of time.

I have been updating the RRS membership roster, but some did not receive the email for the symposium back in mid-April. As people move, sometimes our contact information falls out of date. To all of our membership, please contact me to make sure your email and other contact information is up to date.
secretary@rrs.org

Meeting adjourned at 9:11pm. Our next meeting will be June 9th. If there’s anything I missed or needs correction, please let me know.
secretary@rrs.org