MTA launch event, 2021-07-23

by Dave Nordling, Reaction Research Society


Aerospace Corporation held a private launch event at the RRS MTA on Friday, July 23, 2021, for a group of interns soon to return back to school. I was the pyrotechnic operator in charge for this event with Drew Cortopassi as my apprentice. It was an ideal day for launch with low winds all day, but the Mojave summer heat was formidable as ever with temperatures reaching over 100 degrees before noon.

Chris and James Kobel prepare the Aerospace rockets for launch.
Although built quickly and with little if any paint, the rockets flew very well.
Ready for launch

This was the first time the company organized a build-and-fly type of event. RRS members also employed at Aerospace were able to recommend a common and reliable model rocket design with F-sized motors. The participants arrived early and were well organized and prepared. With a diligent safety officer from the company, no one had any significant problems with the heat. After our standard safety briefing, the event began with launching all 18 rockets prepared that day, with only one dud motor which was easily replaced.

RRS member, Drew Cortopassi, spots a rocket under parachute descending back to the launch site
Wire launchers were used for the Aerospace Corporation launches. RRS member, Chris Kobel, brought his wire launcher for the event.
Chris Kobel describes the proper procedures for loading and hooking up the rocket in preparation for launch.
With careful rehearsal of the safing and arming, Aerospace interns got to launch their rocket from within the old MTA blockhouse.

Spotting the rockets in flight is challenging even under open blue skies such as we had that fine day at the MTA. All but two rockets were recovered. Some drifted further away from the range and some weren’t able to recover all parts from thier rocket. As many wanted the keepsake, it is a lesson in amateur rocketry that recovery is not guaranteed.

The fun wasn’t limited to just the interns that day. I brought my small Estes Generic E2X and flew my first model rocket with a peppy little C6-7 motor. In doing so, I answered the Yoerg Challenge issued to all RRS members to build and fly a kit rocket as a team broadening effort.

The Nordling-built Estes Generic E2X returned to the launch site safely under parachute.
Safely at rest under calm winds at the RRS MTA
Simple and always fun, the Estes kit rockets are great.

I had asked a few members of the society to join me at this event which helped better monitor progress and more swiftly execute the event as the heat would become worse as the day went on. John Krell came out to fly one of his own hobby rockets with a new payload he’s been developing. After some problems with adapting to the wire launcher and keeping the rocket upright, he opted to use the alpha box-rails which fit his four-finned vehicle well. Sadly, his rocket suffered a motor failure and the flight would have to be for another day.

John Krell arms the payload before walking back to the blockhouse for firing.

The last project at this event was an experimental rocket built by Jerry Fuller, Jeff Lang and others at Aerospace Corporation. The details of this project were company proprietary but they were able to use a commercial high powered motor and booster rocket for what appeared to be a successful flight from our 1515 rail launcher.

Jeff Lang of Aerospace Corporation making the final preparations on the specialized booster for the experimental flight
Jerry Fuller examines the booster on the rails before the payload is installed before flight.
A swift and straight launch from the RRS 1515 rail launcher.

The society was glad to support individual groups and companies with these kind of events. For organizations interested in having similar educational events at the RRS MTA or simply using our site for conducting private projects, contact the RRS president, Osvaldo Tarditti.

president@rrs.org


MTA launch event, 2021-07-17

by Dave Nordling, Reaction Research Society


The UCLA Project Prometheus had reserved the RRS MTA for Saturday, July 17, 2021, for another round of static fire testing of a nitrous oxide hybrid motor on our vertical test stand.  Dave Crisalli was the pyrotechnic operator in charge for that day and recorded the successful static fire.  The footage will be posted on the society Instagram page soon.

This summer semester test would demonstrate UCLA’s student designed and built custom hybrid motor.  Average thrust was around 300 lbf with a maximum value of 349 lbf.  Total impulse recorded was 2044 lbf-sec (in the M-motor range).  UCLA shared a few pictures from the event.

Success on the stand…
…starts with good testing in the lab

This was another great example of a university team success thanks to careful design, lab testing, training, planning and smart, in-the-field engineering.  The RRS is glad to offer our facility and technical advice.  The RRS looks forward to working with UCLA again soon.

For teams seeking to schedule the use the RRS MTA, please contact the RRS president, Osvaldo Tarditti.  Always include a full project description such that the society can accurately evaluate your request.

president@rrs.org


MTA launch event, 2021-06-19

by Dave Nordling, Reaction Research Society


The society held a launch event at the Mojave Test Area on June 19th. With many people having other plans, we were sparsely attended but able to get a few things done. The winds were very low and sun was very hot that day (105 F) making it a challenge to operate at the site, but with each other’s help we managed. I was the pyrotechnic operator in charge that day. I had intended to bring my hybrid rocket for this event but wasn’t able to complete the rocket in time. It would be Bill Inman’s Solar Cat, a pair of micrograin alphas and witnessing the UCLA Prometheus team launch their hybrid rocket after getting a replacement nozzle from the motor supplier.

UCLA Prometheus team posing before bringing their hybrid rocket to the launch rail at FAR.

BILL INMAN’S SOLAR CAT

Bill Inman and Jon Wells made the journey from Nevada to demonstrate a new sun tracking system improvement to better automate the solar heating process with the parabolic mirror. Unfortunately, there were several problems with the installation that ultimately went unresolved for that day. A series of benchtop tests would be needed before bringing his combined solar collector and rail launcher back to the MTA for a launch.

Bill had also expressed concerns about vibration from over-the-road travel taking its toll on the structure. He was already considering a major rebuild of his parabolic collector with a wider aperture. The next iteration of the Solar Cat is also supposed to be larger in diameter and capacity. With the Solar Cat work at a halt, Bill and Jon came over to assist Manny Marquez and myself with the loading of a pair of RRS standard alphas.

A PAIR OF ALPHAS

Osvaldo Tarditti was unable to attend this event, but he did measure out the zinc and sulfur in separate pre-weighed bags and provided a clean pair of alpha parts complete with the nozzles and well-painted, turned and recovered aluminum nosecones. For our new members, the society likes to give the experience of micrograin rocketry. Manny, Bill and Jon would have their first experience loading and firing an alpha that day. The society hasn’t launched many micrograin rockets since before the pandemic.

Manny Marquez loads the pre-weighed charges of zinc and sulfur powders before closing up the mixing barrel.
With the generator powering the electric motor driven roller, the drum sits and gently rolls mixing the zinc and sulfur to a consistent mixture.

Manny was a big help getting the equipment out and running. I was able to train him in the old RRS tradition of micrograin rocketry. With only two rockets, we gave the loading duties to Bill and Jon. For their handling of the dirty task of slowly loading the propellant tubes, they each got the honor of finishing the build and preparing for launch.

New member, Jon Wells (left) and returning member, Bill Inman (right) hold the first of two loaded alpha propellant tubes.
Bill Inman doing the hook-up under oppressive heat.

I was able to teach Bill, Jon and Manny the safe procedure for hooking up back to the control box in the blockhouse. With a well rehearsed procedure including air-and-road checks, we notified FAR in advance of firing our two alphas for that day to prevent anyone from wandering downrange before we fired.

Still capture from the launch of Bill Inman’s alpha; fast as hell

We each got a good lesson in the value of teamwork and a renewed respect for the heat of summer. The micrograin rocket is a simple but powerful initiation into experimental rocketry.

We all brought a lot of ice and drinks for that day and it was a big help.

Our next event has not been scheduled but we do plan to return to the MTA in July 2021. For members interested in planning the next event at the MTA, contact the RRS president and the executive council.

president@rrs.org