July 2021 Virtual Meeting


by Keith Yoerg (RRS Secretary)


The latest meeting of the Reaction Research Society took place Friday, July 9th and had 15 attendees who came and went – all members. We kicked off the meeting chatting about various items, including the news that Relativity Space (a 3D-Printed rocket engine company led by 2 USC Rocket Propulsion graduates who have tested rockets at the MTA) has just signed a contract for a building in Long Beach.

Screenshot of discussion during the monthly meeting

RICHARD BUTTERFIELD REMEMBERANCES

The RRS received sad news of the passing of an extremely devoted and well liked member – Richard Butterfield. Richard became a member of the RRS in the 1950s, and was heavily involved in recruiting new members for the organization while he lived in Long Beach working for a local aerospace company. Eventually, he moved out to the Mojave Desert at some land to the northwest of the MTA. Following a fire at his property which destroyed his workshop & part of his house he moved back into town.

Richard Ransom Butterfield, 1933-2021

Several members who knew Richard shared their remembrances and stories of Richard, recalling that he was always very welcoming to those new to the hobby. All spoke very highly of him. We intend to compile a more formal collection of stories (and photos) to pay proper tribute to this great man.

MTA PERMANENT BATHROOM UPDATE

Progress is continuing on the permanent RRS Bathroom structure. A 20-foot shipping container has been purchased and work is being done to cut out areas for doors and ventilation windows. That work is expected to be completed within the next week or 2, at which time the container will be delivered to a hangar of RRS member Wilbur Owens for the next stages of construction including adding plumbing, fixtures, and the doors and windows. See below for a schematic of the current plans for the bathroom.

A side-view and floor plan of the container bathroom

The bathroom conversation opened a discussion on other MTA site improvements that members would like to see – including solar power solutions, firefighting (possibly via a Kowasaki mule or similar ATV), and sun-protection behind the Dosa building. While the bathroom is the top site improvement priority, these other improvements are an important part of providing a world-class location for amateur rocket enthusiasts to conduct their activities.

AMAZON SMILE DONATION

The RRS received $23 in donations as a result of members and others using smile.amazon.com when ordering online – and selecting the Reaction Research Society as the charity to benefit. Thank you to all who have helped with this contribution, it should help us celebrate when we can finally have our monthly meetings in-person once again (pizza party anyone?).

Register your account with Amazon Smile to donate to the Reaction Research Society

IN-PERSON MEETINGS IN GARDENA

While the City of Gardena does not have concrete plans on when they may re-open the Ken Nakaoka Community Center – they have informed us that it will be the last thing that is going to open. It sounds like Gardena is taking a very cautious approach, and intends to see how opening the parks goes first and then move from there. While we don’t know for sure – the hope is that we may be able to host an in-person meeting in September. Members will be informed via the monthly meeting invite once meetings will be allowed in person again.

Out of town members (temporary or permanent) don’t need to worry – we will continue to provide a zoom component for our meetings to allow those members to join. We have several members who have been very dedicated to meetings but would have trouble making it in-person & we want to keep everyone engaged! Not to mention it makes guest presentations from colleges and other groups from around the country much easier.

CLASSES & COMMUNITY OUTREACH

Frank has been working diligently to set up classes to get back to our community outreach of getting the local youth exposed to & excited about rocketry. The goal is to teach out of the Strive learning facility in Watts, which has been providing a space for local at-risk youth to expand their horizons for over 30 years. We pan to teach the classes on Wednesdays in September – and then taking the kids for a launch day at the MTA in early October.

Frank showing information about the Strive Learning Center to the RRS membership

Any members interested in assisting the teaching of these classes can reach out to Frank at: vicepresident@rrs.org.

NEXT MONTHLY MEETING

The next RRS monthly meeting will be held virtually on Friday, August 13th at 7:30 pm pacific time. Current members will receive an invite via e-mail the week of the meeting. Non-members (or members who have not received recent invites) can request an invitation by sending an email to:

secretary@rrs.org

Please check your spam folders and add secretary@rrs.org to your email whitelist to make sure you receive the invitation.

June 2021 Virtual Meeting


by Keith Yoerg (RRS Secretary)


The latest meeting of the Reaction Research Society took place last Friday, June 11th and had 19 attendees – including a guest presentation from the Clarkson University Rocket Club. We kicked off the meeting saying vitrual hello’s and catching up on personal updates – Dimitri is safely in beautiful Alaska but will be down to visit California and may attend an MTA event if one is hosted.

Screenshot of discussion during the monthly meeting

RECENT & UPCOMING MTA EVENTS

The group kicked off society business with Dave Nordling telling us about the highlights from recent events at the MTA – including liquid and hybrid rockets from the UCLA rocket teams. More details are available in the post from Dave here.

Dave also re-iterated his desire that the Reaction Research Society host at least 1 event at the MTA every month, and asked whether other members were interested in attending an event on Saturday, June 19. A few members expressed interest – and Osvaldo agreed to prepare a few Alpha rockets for Dave to possibly launch. The weather is forecast to be 111 deg Farenheit in the desert this weekend, so anyone attending will need to bring lots of water, sun protection, and other preparations to beat the heat!

GUEST PRESENTATION – CLARKSON UNIVERSITY ROCKET CLUB

David Nagy, Benjamin Ellis, and Tyler Brooks from the Clarkson University Rocket Club were our guest presenters for this month. The club is brand-new (it became active this year!) and these students are working to turn it into a fixture at the university in northern New York state. They are currently in the process of soliciting faculty support, building a composites lab, and procuring equipment to get the club off the ground

Clarkson University Rocket Club members working on building their high-power fiberglass rocket

David, the president of the team, has some previous rocket experience with both high power and liquid rockets – including a 9.5 kN pintle injector rocket engine. The team is currently building their own fiberglass, high power rocket from scratch which they plan to fly on a commercial, CTI 75mm solid rocket rocket motor. This scratch build is not only helping them build out their workspace to do filament winding and carbon fiber layups – they also intend to fly a 3D printed avionics bay with an avionics board designed from scratch. They hope to use the lessons learned from this project to inform work on future, more complicated projects.

David, Benjamin, and Tyler showing designs for a future planned project – a liquid bi-propellant rocket

The Clarkson University team solicited advice and opinions on their plans for a liquid bi-propellant LOX/Ethanol rocket. The design is currently in its early stages but the specifications are to have 500 lbf thrust, with a fuel-centered pintle injector. They predict that with a 15-second burn time they could build a rocket that would reach an apogee of 35,000 ft. Several RRS members gave their opinions on this design and other challenges involved with starting a fledgling club from scratch. I know many of the members are excited to see what these students will do!

WIRELESS LAUNCH CONTROLLERS

We decided to do a short recap of our recent discussions and presentations from vendors of wireless launch controllers. Dimitri offered to let us use his Cobra system when he returns to California in July, and there was talk of attempting to launch 16 low-power kits at the same time to further test/prove the efficacy and safety of the controllers. RRS members seemed generally impressed with the presentation from Cobra last month, but concern was raised that it’s not a necessary expense. There was a bit of a debate about whether laying and coiling several hundred feet of igniter wire is triple-digit changes the calculation, but Osvaldo has graciously offered to be the cable spooler for any project that requests it.

MTA PERMANENT BATHROOM STATUS UPDATE

The Executive Council updated the membership on progress with the permanent bathroom. After a meeting in Downey earlier this month, it was agreed that RRS member Wilbur would build the container in the LA area and then transport it out to concrete pads which will need to be built at the MTA site (along with a septic solution). The first step of this process has been completed – and the RRS has placed a down payment on a 20 foot “high-cube” shipping container to be used for the bathroom. A schematic of the container is shown below.

The current plan is still to build 2 of these 20-foot containers. Water will be supplied by a well and stored in a tank installed on top of the bathroom or a nearby storage container. The bathroom facility is planned to be located southeast of the Dosa building, alongside the existing storage containers.

NEXT MONTHLY MEETING

The next RRS monthly meeting will be held virtually on Friday, July 9th at 7:30 pm pacific time. Current members will receive an invite via e-mail the week of the meeting. Non-members (or members who have not received recent invites) can request an invitation by sending an email to:

secretary@rrs.org

May 2021 Virtual Meeting

by Keith Yoerg (RRS Secretary)


The latest meeting of the Reaction Research Society took place this past Friday, May 14th and had 20 attendees – including a guest presenter and a project update from the Compton Comet team, which is composed of RRS members. We kicked off the meeting saying vitrual hello’s and catching up on personal updates.

Screenshot of discussion during the monthly meeting

UPCOMING EVENTS AT THE MTA

The group kicked off society business by planning for upcoming MTA events later this month. Wolfram Blume is continuing progress on the Gas Guzzler, but windy forecasts continue to limit his ability to do further launch testing. Osvaldo and Wolfram planned to visit the MTA on May 16th to do a practice setup for a future static firing and some housekeeping tasks at the property.

Osvaldo also informed the membership about an active day planned for Saturday, May 29th with groups from UCLA planning to do another static firing of their hybrid motor and a liquid rocket launch to 33,000 ft. and a team of students firing model rockets. Several additional RRS members expressed interest in attending this event.

GUEST PRESENTATION – COBRA FIRING SYSTEMS

Scott Smith, the founder of Cobra Firing Systems was our guest presenter for this month, continuing our recent discussions on wireless launch controllers. Scott has been in the pyrotechnics industry for 10 years, and developed Cobra into a 25-person company with roughly 14,000 customers around the word. They have worked with Mythbusters, Disney, and the US Military to name a few.

Scott describing the underlying technologies behind the Cobra Wireless Firing Systems

RRS member questions for Scott focused on safety, in particular the risk of misfires and adding a physical shunt to the system. The data is encrypted, includes checksums, and is built around a US-based company Synapse, which has allowed the company to avoid any reports of accidental misfiring due to stray wireless signals. Cobra firing boxes are modular in nature and allow for what the company calls a “slat” – which allows for a cap to be used as a physical, mechanical shunt on the system.

MEMBER PRESENTATION – COMPTON COMET

RRS student members Manuel Marques, Aarington Mitchell, and Tre Willingham presented on the status of their project the “Compton Comet” which is being built at the Compton Airport under the guidance of RRS members Waldo Stakes and Dave Nordling.

The Compton Comet team presenting to the membership

The rocket is a 75% ethanol & liquid oxygen bi-propellant rocket with a regeneratively-cooled engine. The engine is a surplus XLR-11 which should produce roughly 1,500-lbf of thrust, and was originally used in a group of 4 to power the Bell-X1 (the first aircraft to break the sound barrier). The rocket is estimated to reach an altitude of 20,000 km and will use a 2-parachute dual deployment recovery system.

THE FUTURE OF IN-PERSON RRS EVENTS

Members discussed the likelihood of in-person RRS events like the Symposium and meetings at the Gardena Community Center in 2021. It mentioned that the Symposium typically takes between 90 to 120 days to prepare, and it would be unlikely that the RRS would host one before spring 2022. There was a bit more of an optimistic outlook on the monthly meetings with a tentative goal set for a return to the Community Center in August (pending COVID restrictions).

MTA PERMANENT BATHROOM STATUS UPDATE

Designs and plans for the permanent bathroom structure at the MTA have been the main focus of the ongoing, twice-monthly meetings of the RRS Executive Council. Frank updated the membership on the current status of the project, which has gone through several iterations. Currently, RRS member Wilbur is working with professional drafters to get precise designs on paper – including model numbers for things like toilets and water heaters. A precise, written design will help the society get a final product that matches expectations.

The current plan is to build 2 or 3, 20-foot containers with 2 bathrooms each or 1 bathroom and 1 shower. These will be transported to the MTA and installed on concrete plinths which drain to a concrete septic tank and leach field. Water will be supplied by a well and stored in a tank installed on top of the bathroom or a nearby storage container. The bathroom facility is planned to be located southeast of the Dosa building, alongside the existing storage containers.

RRS BY LAWS

The RRS Executive Council has reviewed the recommended changes to the By Laws provided by the 2020 constitutional committee. Following are the By Laws as agreed to by the 2021 RRS Executive Council:

2021 RRS By Laws

LAUNCHING & STRUCTURES

Richard Dierking raised a question regarding the new structure being built on the Polaris land adjacent to the RRS site, and whether it must be considered an occupied structure during launch testing at the RRS site. This prompted a lively debate about the nuances of the regulatory framework around rocket activities in the Mojave desert, with several members voicing their opinions.

Safety of all personnel must be the #1 priority during activities at the MTA & communication between between the RRS, FAR, and Polaris is the best way to ensure that. Concurrent operations at adjacent properties are avoided when possible, and the RRS maintains relationships with our neighbors so that the Pyrotechnic Operator in charge is in contact with & can ensure the safety of personnel at adjacent property when operations overlap.

NEXT MONTHLY MEETING

The next RRS monthly meeting will be held virtually on Friday, June 11th at 7:30 pm pacific time. Current members will receive an invite via e-mail the week of the meeting. Non-members (or members who have not received recent invites) can request an invitation by sending an email to:

secretary@rrs.org