MTA launch event, 2018-04-07

The RRS held a launch event with the students of Florence Joyner Elementary School at the MTA on April 7th, 2018. This event was the final step in the five-week RRS program that started in February thanks to the support of the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) Community Safety Partnership (CSP). The students got a tour of the RRS Mojave Test Area where both amateurs and professionals can test rockets in the open space of the Mojave Desert.

Students from Flo Jo Elementary at the RRS MTA

As always, we gave a safety briefing to the students to the hazards of the desert and our testing site. Dave Crisalli was our pyro-op for the event and gave an excellent background of the exciting work we do at the RRS.

Dave Crisalli addresses the students and officers as Frank Miuccio looks on

Safety briefing inside of the George Dosa building at the RRS MTA

The tour also included a live demonstration of burning the micrograin zinc/sulfur powders in the open air. The bright yellowish flame is a vivid demonstration of the combustion process.

Live demonstration of micrograin propellant at the MTA

We also demonstrated the burning of a more common solid propellant, an ammonium perchlorate, HTPB and aluminum powder composite grain. The same constituents used in the Space Shuttle’s solid rocket boosters (SRB’s). Thanks to Larry Hoffing for making the sample grain for the test.

Sample of a composite solid propellant grain just before the demonstration.

The Flo Jo elementary class built 10 RRS standard alphas for the event. Each painted uniquely by each of the teams.

Standard alpha rockets from Flo Jo Elementary

Once everyone had the safety briefing and completed the tour, we proceed to send everyone to our safety bunker as Dave Crisalli and I loaded each rocket into our rail launcher.

Dave Crisalli and Dave Nordling load an alpha into the launching rack

Each of the rockets flew straight and fast from the rails and did not disappoint the class seeing their hard work fly off the rails in a huge yellow cloud.

wide-angle still shot from Osvaldo’s high-speed camera, 2018-04-07

An RRS alpha rocket takes off, view from the bunker

After the clean launch of all of the rockets, the kids and the LAPD ventured out to the desert to try to find each of their rockets. Flag poles were made for the occasion to mark the locations so that they could be extracted later by shovel. 7 out of 10 rockets were found and two older rockets from previous events were also found and marked. It is tough to find each rocket in the desert scrub, but with the hard work of the students it’s good to recover at least some of the parts as they can be reused with some work.

After launch, the students and their mentors march to the desert to search for their rockets

The kids were very organized and had a great time. After taking a group photo at the gate, they returned to the city. The RRS was glad to host them and hope they can come back soon. Also, thanks to the LAPD CSP program for being supporters of this project to give this experience to the hard-working students of Watts.

Flo Jo Elementary and LAPD CSP pose before the RRS MTA sign

The RRS membership stayed behind to try a few experiments. The first test was trying to finish the foot plate welds on the horizontal thrust stand I have made for static testing alpha rockets motors of similar size with S-type load cell donated to the RRS by Interface Force Inc.

Interface Inc. – Precision Load Cells

The construction of the horizontal thrust stand is nearly complete, but unfortunately the desert winds made welding of the plates impossible. This steel frame will firmly hold alpha-sized rockets for static fire testing when bolted down to concrete slab in front of the old blockhouse. As a historical note, it was a young Dave Crisalli that helped pour this slab in the late 1960’s.

Osvaldo prepares to weld the foot plates of the horizontal thrust frame at the MTA

Scribe marks were made on the plates and the assembly was taken back to the city to be completed later. Many thanks to Jim Shirley of Shirley Design and Custom Fabrication in Huntington Beach for finishing the structural welds. The integration of the load cell and final mounting to the concrete slab will take place at the next launch event where the RRS hopes to measure the thrust and impulse bit of our standard alpha rockets.

The RRS horizontal thrust stand frame is complete and ready for mounting at the MTA

Richard Garcia built his own vertical test frame to support a small steel engine case he made for a rocket-candy grain.

Richard mounts his frame to the MTA structure for his experiment.

Rocket-candy is a simple mixture of potassium nitrate and sugar. Under moderate heat, the sugar caramelizes to form a viscous but firm mixture that suspends the oxidizer and can be packed in to the paper tube cases.

Richard “cooks” the sugar and potassium nitrate under low heat of the electric hot plate.

Richard’s work was documented by RRS member, Alastair Martin, who is working on a larger documentary of the RRS classes and our members’ experimental work at the society.

Alastair Martin films the tools and process of Richard Garcia’s rocket candy production

Once the motor grains had set, they were test fired to verify the quality of the mixture. The second motor grain was loaded in the steel rocket tube mounted to the vertical stand. Results were not spectacular as the end-burner grain design didn’t create much pressure. More testing will be done to improve performance, but the steel case and nozzle were undamaged.

Richard Garcia’s steel motor case and nozzle, just before loading the motor grain

Richard’s sugar rocket motor fires securely from the vertical mounted stand

One of the newest tools invented by our president, Osvaldo Tarditti, is a new ratcheting tool that pulls the rocket straight from the ground by a simple portable frame that can be angled to get the rocket to come out straight. The tool must be operated by two people to pull the rocket body straight from the ground. The tool was successfully demonstrated and nine rockets were pulled from the ground without any of the back-breaking work of shoveling. This is an excellent advancement for the society and will be very handy in the future.

Osvaldo’s newest invention, the Rockextractor

As this is the first launch event of this 75th anniversary year of the society those of us that were at the MTA at the end of the day took a group photo by the old I-beam which has been a part of the RRS since our earliest days of rocket testing. You can see the I-beam by itself in many of the old society photos. At the new MTA site, it is an integral part of our larger test structure that has seen hundreds of uses and still going strong.

Frank Miuccio, Alastair Martin, Dave Nordling, Richard Garcia and Osvaldo Tarditti pose by the iconic RRS I-beam

The RRS will be having their next monthly meeting on Friday, April 13th. The RRS 75th anniversary symposium is also happening on Saturday, April 21st. Please come out as it will be a great occasion with speakers and exhibitors from industry, universities and other amateur rocketry groups.

February 2017 meeting

Despite the rain, we had a good attendance at the February meeting on Friday, the 10th. We came to order at 7:51pm.

Chris Lujan said that he’d put together some notes for a future posting on sugar rockets since he has had some experience with a classic in amateur rocketry. Look for that in the coming months.

Larry Hoffing and John Mariano have started an alpha rocket build event with GALA starting this month. The USC RPL will be assisting in the instruction and the event should culminate in the launch event at the MTA on March 25th (** updated **).

Girls Academic Leadership Academy, LA USD

Vera Mulyani who was on travel called into the meeting to give her presentation on Mars City Design. USC hosted a very successful 2016 GALA event that included Buzz Aldrin as a speaker. She’s been working to solicit donors to help start prototype building of some of the first 3-D printed concrete structures. There will be a fundraising dinner on May 25th as a benefit to the organization.

Ultimately, the RRS will house a few of these exotic 3-D printed structures at our MTA site that will give us a cool extra shelter or two. According to the regolith samples taken by the Mars City teem on their site tour, the dry lake bed environment regolith materials of the RRS MTA site should work very well.

Mars City Design

After Vera’s presentation, we discussed more of the RRS Symposium. An idea was put forth to consider having a small static fire demonstration at the RRS symposium event with Steve Majdali. Possibly a black powder or sugar rocket? Still considering the details of how we could do this which certainly involves getting approval for the nearby fire station.

Also, we’ll need to get to work on the full scale mockup of the SuperDosa rocket. Osvaldo can make most if not all of the pieces, but maybe we’ll need help in getting everything ready before the symposium.

Just to re-iterate, the symposium date is hard set to be April 22nd at our same meeting location at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center (formerly called the Gardena Community Center) in Gardena, CA. One of the flyer designs we’re starting to pass around is linked below. Please download, share and post with anyone interested in coming. We’d like to start spreading the word.

rrs symposium flyer 5

As of this month’s meeting, the RRS will formally begin the history project as we are one year before our 75th anniversary. We plan to interview some of our older and current members at the symposium or in separate private interviews to recall and document whatever they can of their experiences with the RRS over the seven and a half decades of our society’s history. Our upcoming symposium will be a good opportunity for members new and past to get together. We’ll also use this opportunity to interview some and at least update contact information for members who would like to meet with us later.

Richard Garcia has been in discussions with an owner of a set of propellant tanks and a vertical test stand. The owner may consider donating a substantial amount of hardware to the RRS.

The RRS has agreed to support UCLA in an undergraduate design class (MAE 157A) by supplying some of our standard alpha and beta rockets. I have invited UCLA to come take a tour of the MTA at the next launch on March 25th. The launch event for this class with UCLA is tenatively scheduled for Saturday, June 3rd, once we can confirm this date.

Richard Garcia and myself were invited to UCLA’s Critical Design Review on Saturday, February 11th for their hybrid rocket project at the next IREC launch in June. We were also invited to a Conceptual Design Review (CoDR) on March 1st for the Tin Can project (liquid bi-prop rocket competition) at the FAR site.

We’ve been having weekly teleconferences for the symposium to help track assignments and note progress. The symposium is picking up a lot of momentum as we have confirmed several speakers from private industry and universities. We still need a lot of help from our members and others who would like to support the RRS.

Our meeting adjourned as the Ken Nakaoka Community Center closed at 9:00pm.

If there is anything I missed or misstated, please let me know.
secretary@rrs.org

Our next meeting will be Friday, March 10th.