MTA Launch Event, 2022-06-04

By Dave Nordling, President, Reaction Research Society


The RRS held a launch event on Saturday, June 4, 2022, at our Mojave Test Area (MTA). I was the pyro-op in charge. Winds were brisk and steady, but still under the 25 MPH limit. We had two operations that day.

The first was the UCLA Senior Capstone project led by Professor Brett Lopez. This quarterly class has seniors build and balance their own rockets from scratch. They load F-sized motors and fly them at the end of the quarter to prove their team’s skills in flight.

The UCLA students gather their materials in the propellant loading area.

Secondly, RRS member Wolfram Blume returned to the MTA with the latest rebuild of the Gas Guzzler. He had concerns about flying in the strong winds that day so he limited his work to testing the staging system with both halves on the 1515 rail. Bill Inman and new member, Dale, offered their assistamce in positioning the rocket on the rail.

Dale, Wolfram and Bill Inman

Bill Inman and Dale assisted Wolfram in trying out the new staging system in the Gas Guzzler. The old system (e.g., last December) was a hassle and required assembling the upper stage (main body tube, cowling, nose cone) on the rail with a screw driver and a step ladder. The mating of the booster thrust rods into the upper stage was very difficult. So after December, he redesigned and rebuilt the thrust rods and the staging system. The result was a successful design. The new system is fairly easy to stage on the rail, does not require any assembly (with the ever-present danger of losing small screws) and does not require a ladder. Wolfram feels good about this system for future launches.

The Gas Guzzler during its fit check on 6/4/2022

Wolfram doesn’t think he’ll make it back to the MTA until the summer heat is over. His goals for the summer both involve the fuel system:

  • The flameholder is the ramjet needs to ignite every time.
  • The ramjet slows down very quickly after stage separation (25m/sec/sec = 60mph/sec), so the ramjet must ignite within less than 2 seconds after stage separation; less than 1 second would be better.

Using the 270-volt, 3-phase electricity at Wolfram’s laboratory, he can run a 20hp air blower which can mimic the air flow at stage separation with a K-motor in the booster (175 m/sec). The blower can be run higher to mimic stage-separation flight speeds of about 250 m/sec which is just below the separation speed of an L-motor in the booster (280-300 m/sec).

Wolfram’s workshop is good for the tuning and testing the flameholder. but running the main burner would require returning to the MTA. The main fuel flow could be tuned using water. After the summer’s heat is over, he will return to the MTA and finish testing the parachute system. The first powered flight of the ramjet with a short – 5 second burn is under discussion.

This short event was also a good time to clean up the site a bit. The society has big plans for the summer including some much anticipated facility upgrades.

The next monthly meeting will be June 10th (2nd Friday of each month) by teleconference. Contact the RRS secretary for details.


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