by Dave Nordling, Reaction Research Society

It is with great shock and sadness, the society announces the untimely passing of society member and our prior director of research, Richard Garcia, on July 5, 2024.

Richard Joseph Garcia was born November 12, 1984, in Visalia, California to Stanley and Michelle Garcia.  He graduated with an associate of arts degree from College of the Sequoias and later from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona in 2007 with his bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical/Space Engineering.  As a professional, he worked for Firefly Space Systems, Masten Space Systems, Aero Systems Engineering, Minnetronix and was an IPT Team Leader at Teledyne-Brown Engineering in Huntsville, Alabama.

Judging from website entries, Richard became active in the RRS before 2013. I came to know him in 2015 and the years following.  During his working years in California, Richard commuted to each of the monthly meetings in Gardena from California City over 100 miles in distance one-way, fighting LA traffic on Friday nights. Richard was a major part of the 2017 RRS symposium, the first in over 20 years which led to the recurring symposium events we now hold in most years.  Richard was responsible for discovering and bringing back the donated LNG horizontal cylinder at the RRS which is soon to become a viable and useful asset at the MTA in this year.  Richard’s residence in California City made him a convenient aid to our Mojave Test Area on many occasions and his machining skills were valuable to other members in their projects.

Through his relentless work ethic and years of reliable support to the society, Richard was appointed as the second director of research at the society, a role only held once prior decades earlier by George Dosa. He retained the role for several years even after leaving California attending meetings remotely during the pandemic and serving the society from two or three timezones away.  He was serving as a committee reviewer on the RRS Regen Engine Competition that started July 1, 2024.

Few could match Richard’s spirit, kindness, intellect, passion and genuine and prolific desire to share and expand knowledge. Richard assisted with and performed numerous projects at the MTA and authored several technical articles on RRS.ORG for the society sharing good practices and helping to make the practice of rocketry safer and more accessible.  He loved the Mojave desert and was a major driving force in the society’s growth in the decade of 2010.  

More locally in Huntsville, Alabama, Richard was active in two hacker spaces and was involved with many projects inside and outside of work. Richard built his own telescope in preparation for the 2024 eclipse earlier this year.

Richard is survived by his wife, Jeannie Riddles, his mother Michelle, his brother Russel, and sister Darleen, nieces Kadence, Kylie, Katelynn and Laura, and a nephew, Leo.  He was preceded in death by his father, Stanley.

No services are planned.  After consulting with his wife, in lieu of flowers, she said that rocketry was Richard’s largest passion and that donations to the RRS could be made in his honor.  Please contact the RRS vice president or any of the executive council if anyone wishes to honor Richard.  The Reaction Research Society Inc., of Los Angeles, California, is a 501(c)3 educational non-profit organization dedicated to amateur rocketry.

The RRS publicly announced the news to the attending membership of the society at the July 12th monthly meeting at the Compton/Woodley Airport.  The society will email our full membership roster soon.  A memorial for Richard Garcia at the MTA is being planned. Updates to this article will tell more as it develops.

Ad astra, Richard Garcia.  You will be missed.

MTA Launch Event, 2024-07-15

by the Reaction Research Society

The Reaction Research Society (RRS) hosted a launch event with Aerospace Corporation at our private testing facility, the Mojave Test Area (MTA), on Monday, July 15, 2024. Osvaldo Tarditti served as the pyrotechnic operator in charge for the event. Winds were pretty low but temperatures were over 100F which is normal for this season.

The RRS was glad to welcome Aerospace Corporation as a repeat client serving their launch needs. There were 25 model rockets propelled by “F” motors, mostly successful with a few a little unstable in flight.

Chase Lang had loaded his first standard alpha and flew it. Disappointingly, the alpha only flew 4 feet before landing safely back at the MTA. There seemed to be some trouble either in the quality of the new batch of propellants we acquired or a failure to build up pressure at the start with the burst disk. A good reason to try again soon. Some of our other new members have expressed interest in loading and flying their own micrograin rocket. Although now an obscure type of propellants, zinc and sulfur powders remain our signature rocket.

Chase Lang brought his large 10-inch diameter high-power rocket “Thumper” with a clean paint job and a big M1600 motor. Launched from the RRS 1515 rail at the MTA, it was a great sight reaching 4,700 feet. The dual-deployment chutes worked well and the rocket was recovered downrange.

The society is glad to have the interms of Aerospace Corporation at the MTA again and also grateful to members Chase and Jeff Lang for coming out and launching.

The RRS meets every 2nd Friday of each month at the front office of the Compton/Woodley Airport at 7:30pm. Next meeting of the Reaction Research Society will be August 9th. Contact the RRS president for details.

MTA Launch Event, 2024-06-29

by Dave Nordling and Chase Lang, Reaction Research Society

The Reaction Research Society (RRS) held a small launch event at private testing site, the Mojave Test Area (MTA) on Saturday, June 29, 2024. Dave Nordling served as the pyrotechnic operator in charge for this event. RRS director of research, Rushd Julfiker, was also present to oversee the event. The weather was hot, reaching 100F, and the winds were holding still up until about 1pm. New associate member, Mia Marshall, came out to the MTA for the first time and we were glad to show her around the MTA and discuss the kinds of projects our members do.

On Saturday, June 29th, Chase and Jeff Lang conducted a series of tests to evaluate two experimental solid rocket propellants: Performance Fast 2 (PF2) and the Basic Batch. Each of the three “I”-sized 38mm motors fired correctly to the expected burn duration. The primary objective was to characterize the burn rate of PF2 using three test motors, each fitted with progressively smaller nozzles. Additionally, we aimed to test fly a rocket powered by Basic Batch propellant, which had been previously characterized.

For the PF2 testing, we prepared three motors, each with a different nozzle size to observe the effects on the burn rate. The tests were conducted on a custom test stand equipped with a load cell and pressure transducer for precise measurement of thrust and chamber pressure. The data from only the last two of the three firings were recorded and plotted below.

Following the PF2 tests, we launched a rocket powered by a reloaded 38mm Aerotech DMS motor loaded with Basic Batch propellant. This propellant had previously been characterized during a prior visit to the RRS, where we ended up with unburned grains due to a low Kn value. These grains were repurposed for the current test. The rocket achieved an altitude of over 6,000 feet and was successfully recovered with the aid of a custom-built Radio Direction Finding (RDF) beacon. The rocket was recovered downrange to the east thanks to higher winds that picked only just before launch after 1PM that day.

Also joining us that day was associate member, Bill Nelson. Stepping into our crew cabin, B/15, has been challenging given the large difference in height between the door and ground outside. Bill built the society a good step which makes getting in and out much easier.

The crew cabin was used for the temporary storage of hardware and tools as well as an inside work area during the cooler earlier months for the 1936 GALCIT liquid rocket engine replica built for American Artist and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Given the success of the firing and filming event on June 8-9th, the project team brought all hardware and tools back to our shared workspace at the Compton/Woodley Airport where the pieces can be prepared for this fall’s exhibition at LACMA. The project team was grateful to Rushd and Mia for assisting with the moving of parts into trucks.

The next RRS monthly meeting will be July 12th at the front office of the Compton/Woodley Airport at 7:30pm. Meetings are always the 2nd Friday of each month and a good opportunity to discuss projects you’d like to do at the RRS MTA. Anyone interested in attending a meeting is welcome. Please contact the RRS secretary or any member of the executive council. Teleconference information can be provided for those attending remotely.

Chase Lang has asked the society to fund the building of a second 1515 launch rail at the RRS MTA. The executive council is assessing his proposal. The RRS is expanding our launch capabilities now that significant improvements to our basic infrastructure are completed. The council will likely discuss this at the next meeting.

Also RRS associate member, Zach Lesan, has made significant progress in building the mobile trailer for the society’s LNG horizontal cryogenic liquid cylinder. We hope to complete construction and testing successfully and have this asset ready for safe use this fall.

Next event at the RRS MTA will be with Aerospace Corporation as our client. Osvaldo Tarditti will be the pyrotechnic operator in charge. Also, several of our newer members have indicated interest in flying micrograin alphas at a forthcoming event. Jim Gross may oversee that event as the pyro-op in charge when the president schedules it. By society policy, all members and outside parties interested in using the RRS MTA or just visiting the site must first contact and be approved by the RRS president.