MTA Firing Event, 2023-09-09

by Dave Nordling, President, RRS.ORG

New RRS members, Derek Honkawa, Rick Maschek, Eric Beckner, Mike and Preston Brinker brought a LOX-ethanol liquid engine for static firing at the MTA vertical test stand. I served as the pyrotechnic operator in charge for that day. RRS members, Rushd Julfiker and Bill Inman were present that day to observe along with John Newman of FAR.

Their structure which bolted to the square hole grid supported parallel, same-sized run tanks, each with their own dome-loaded pressure regulators.

Each tank had both manual and remote venting. Each tank also had manual fill and drain valves at the bottom. The engine was supported on an angled sliding rail set firmly against a load cell. The chamber pressure measurement was taken from a side port covered by the ablative liner inside and the line to the sensor head was filled with oil to preserve the measurement.

The team started early that morning following their checklist that began with simple valve checks of the whole system in the completely empty condition. A few minor issues were found and resolved. Low pressure leak checks and valve function tests followed successfully. High pressure lockup testing for leaks were also successful. The team also conducted an igniter test to verify proper burn duration. Upon this careful sequence of initial testing, the team proceeded with propellant loading.

After careful review of their firing procedures, the pyro-op gave permission to continue the test. After air and road checks, a smooth countdown with properly confirmed ignition before valve opening led to a successful 3-second burn tailing off gently. After venting off all stored pressures and confirming a safe system, the test was deemed a success.

This engine was fired a previous time and the team opted to let this single test suffice. The team was well organized, safety focused and communicated well with each other and those on site. It was an excellent example of how to conduct a liquid rocket engine test.

September 2023 meeting

by Joel Cool-Panama, Secretary, RRS.ORG

The Reaction Research Society held its monthly meeting at the Compton/Woodley Airport location,
7:30 PM PST.

  • Elections in November
  • Special announcement from President Dave Nordling
  • Society tax status
  • RF Tracking system from Kerry Nock
  • Multitronix Kate-3 system (?)
  • Construction of containers from Falcon Structures completed on 8/25
    • Pictures, video walkthrough received
    • Final payment made 8/31
    • Delivery on 9/14
  • USC RPL pad anchor installation, 9/9 – 9/10
  • Erik, Derek, Rick static fire 9/9
  • Jerry Fuller/Aerospace 9/14 launch
  • USC RPL launch 10/21

Past Events

In late August, Treasurer Larry was contact by Kerry Nock of the Global Aerospace Corporation in regards to a RF tracking system, asking if any of our members were interested in the system. None present seemed to be. Around a week prior, this, Vern Knowles of the Multitronix company responded to a Kate-3 tracking system. This discussion was likewise brief.

President Dave has spoken with the University of Michigan recently, regarding their continued use of the MTA in regards to their rocket team. The University is apparently looking to launch as a location local, so as to reduce problems with traveling to California to do the same.

Society member Bill Inmann proudly reported that he launched his Solar Cat steam rocket again on Tuesday this week. He has apparently reduced the heating time significantly, and is looking to make further improvements to the rocket and his launcher.

Current Events

A discussion was held in regards to rocketry licensure. While the fees for rocketry licenses have recently been doubled, there is apparently an unwritten rule held by CalFire, that they will only strictly require that 20% of licensees for a certain license class are required to write one a recommendation letter to receive their own, in leiu of the requirement for five recommendations required by law. This is good news for anyone seeking their class 1
license, as there are fewer than 10 license holders in the whole of California, of which the Society only has 3 in its membership. This might mean that recommendations from the membership can be sufficient for additional members pursuing their class 1 licenses.

At this meeting the Society was pleased to meet Bill Nelson. He’s a machinist from Torrance, who is apparently interested in steam rocketry, akin to Bill Inmann. He apparently would like to join the Society, and brought with him some aluminum heat exchange tubes. Secretary Joel accepted those that he brought, as they may be useful on the Compton Comet.

Present at the meeting was a launch rail system from member Wolfram. Painted blue, they seemed to be of good quality, and the RRS has gladly accepted them. They will be stored in the 40′ container, once it is received, and Treasurer Larry will handle the tax letter for the donation.

It is with thanks that the Society announces that our previously late tax returns are now submitted to the State. However, the RRS is apparently still in delinquency with the Secretary of State. It’s been suggested that we may simply now be late on the previous year’s tax paperwork, but Larry is to get to the bottom of it.

The Society was pleased to have Pat Bahn in attendance at this meeting. He came specifically because he’s looking to hire someone to a Senior Liquid Rocket Engineer role. He will send his requirements to the Secretary, who will make them available on the Society web pages.

During the meeting, some of our members held a discussion regarding Parafin solid grains. It was speculated that they may make for a good fuel for a Mars return lander because, while they operate poorly at Earth surface temperature, they actually do quite well at -30 fahrenheit, about the surface temperature of Mars.

Future Business

Society members Erik, Derek, and Rich are to hold a static fire on September 9th, the day after this month’s meeting. We wish them well on their project. USC RPL was also hoping to work on their anchor installation project this weekend. However, no one from the Society is available to oversee them, and confidence in their handiwork skills is lacking.

Thursday, September 14th, is set to be quite the busy day at the MTA. On that day our 20′ and 40′ containerized office and crew cabin are set to be delivered, overseen by Society member Dimitri. We’ve chosen Get Hooked to handle the delivery, as they are much cheaper than the service recommended by Dimitri.

That same day, Jerry Fuller of Aerospace is set to launch. He’s expected to arrive earlier than later, as is his custom, and Dimitri will plan accordingly. Jerry will bring his own launch rails and other equipment, so he’s expected to be more or less independent of our personnel.

On the fifteenth, Vice-President Frank and Treasurer Larry are set to host a launch for their Boyle Heights class. However, the YMCA has been having trouble procuring funding for the bussing the students will need. If it turns out to be a problem, they will simply launch from town.

The USC RPL team is set for a launch event on October 21st. Their intent is to perform a grain characterization, on an 8″ system. Society member Dave Crisalli might be asked to oversee the event on behalf of the Society.

The Society has previously been paid for the installation of 4 additional solar panels, for the MTA. Osvaldo and Joe Dominguez are set to work on it. Another upcoming project is to finish the plumbing for the new restrooms. Osvaldo and Dimitri hope to work on it, to reduce cycling, and to also get more dispensers for toilet paper. Dave is also intending to get a cordless impact drill, for the MTA

In addition, the new 20′ and 40′ containers will require more AC power, for their AC units. Dimitri recommended Harbor Fright’s 9500 Predator, having good reviews, 7600 running watts, and costing about $2,500.

It is with pleasure that the Society is announcing our annual elections. Nominations will occur during the November meeting, after which members may then email their vote to the Election Secretary. The election will officially be over at the December meeting, where the winners of each office will be announced. New terms will begin January 1st, 2024.

Unfortunately, President Dave Nordling announced that he will not be seeking another term. He will remain as an advisor to the Compton Comet, and will continue to oversee American Artist’s project with LACMA, but is now looking to focus on his career and family. The Society appreciates the hard work that he has put in during his time as President and Secretary, and hopes that he remain active with us.

The next society meeting will be on October 13th, 2023, at the Compton/Woodley Airport location. Contact the secretary for details.

August 2023 meeting

by Joel Cool-Panama, Secretary, RRS.ORG

The Reaction Research Society held its monthly meeting at the Compton/Woodley Airport location,
7:30 PM PST.

  • New member: Andrew Fuller
  • MTA projects
    • Water truck was required for newly poured pads
    • National Concrete poured the bathroom ramp for no additional charge
    • Schematics received for 20ft office and 40ft crew containers
    • Deposit given, construction on containers begins 8/11, expected to end 8/25
    • Estimate received for crane services
  • 7/21 intern launch event
  • Morgan State University RF equipment inquiry
  • MTA use inquiry from commercial businesses
  • Frank donation of rocketry parts
  • Rocket Fever, Columbia Memorial in Downey, 8/12
    • Alpha rocket, possibly model rocket, launch
  • LMU Mars Rover Expo, 9/30
  • Publishing by-laws, fee policy

Past Events

The Society is pleased to announce that Andrew Fuller, a Northrop intern, has joined the society. He is interested in obtaining his level 2 model rocket certification, and we held a small launch event at the MTA towards that end on August 5th.

Over the previous month, National Concrete laids the pads for the new 20ft and 40ft containers, as well as the ADA ram for the bathroom, in return only for a tax writeoff. The Society would like to Treasurer Larry for his work in getting the ramp poured for no additional charge.

In regards to the containerized office and crew cabin, the Society has received schematics from the manufacturer. Their construction began on August 11th, and is scheduled to finish on the 25th. President Dave is going to work on scheduling their delivery to coincide with a crane service, so that the containers may be laid on the pads without damaging the internal fixtures.

The Society also consulted former-President Osvaldo on what it will take to complete the solar cell system at the MTA. The result of the conversation was that we determined the system should very easily power the light system, but that more batteries may be needed to shore up the system’s capacity. Society member Dimitri is back in California, so we may coordinate with him on future MTA projects

Regarding Osvaldo, he also oversaw the July 21st launch event at the MTA. The event was hosted primarily for the Aerospace corporation’s intern event. In addition, three new members to the Society, all from the Lander Challenge, launched micrograins.

In regards to Society assets, we are pleased to announce that we have started a LinkedIn page. We intend to use the page to increase our social outreach, including to professionals and students in the field, and spread word and knowledge of our mission as an education non-profit. The page is currently being primarily operated by Secretary Joel, but all members of the Executive Council, who have LinkedIn accounts, are administrators of the page.

Unfortunately, a class that Vice-President Frank had scheduled for the Boyle Heights YMCA has been delayed. They apparently are having issues with funding the buses necessary to get the students out to the MTA, so the class will need to be rescheduled to a later date.

The Compton Comet has made some progress over the past month. They have finished the plumbing system for the rocket, and held a low-pressure test in the Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum laboratory. The Comet had previously had issues with bending large radius pipe, but mentor and Society member Waldo found pipe bending services, for which he’s generously paid out of pocket. Regarding future Hot-Flow and Launch of the Comet, a winch will be needed, in order to lift the rocket vertical into the launch stand.

Current Events

The Society was pleased to see a former student member, Bradon Angelo, attend this month’s meeting. He has attended the MTA a handful of times in the past, and is currently attending CSUN. He is considering officially rejoining the society.

Recently, the Society has received a number of requests to us the MTA. Ordinarily this would be well received, however, these groups aren’t interested in using our site to launch, but typically to camp at. These same groups are instead paying FAR to launch at their location. One of these groups heard from a former customer of the Society that they had once been allowed to use the site for free, and were hoping to do the same. Two groups to name who’ve made such requests are Imperial College in London, and Morgan State University.

THere have also been some recent commercial use inquiries for the MTA. One is for an individual who would like to test a magnetic rail gun. Another is a company looking to test solid motors. This organization would need to build-out test stands for their motors, and would therefor require a fair investment into the MTA on their part.

At this month’s meeting, it was brought up for discussion, that the Society should publish our by-laws, our fee policy included. The Executive Council voted to approve the motion during the discussion, and a meeting will be held to discuss the details. It was agreed that the fee policy will be formally included in the by-laws

Future Business

Society member Michael Rouleauo is looking into a high power launch rail on behalf of the society. The Society is still looking to its options for the purchase of a 60ft rail, which our donors have already promised to fund.

In regards to future MTA asset acquirement, it was agreed upon that the society could use a cordless drill for work at the MTA.

The Society will be attending the August 12th rocketry educational event in Downey. Frank will bring his tent, as well as his Alpha rocket. The Downey Columbia Memorial Center allegedly has their own paper rocket launching system, but Frank will probably bring his launchers just in case. Larry also has a launcher of his own. The representative of the Society will need breaks, and we’ll appreciate anyone volunteering their time to help us.

The Society will also be attending a second event soon, Loyola Marymount University’s Mars Rover Expo on September 30th. The event will be on a Saturday, and Secretary Joel is planning to attend. Other Executive Council members may also appear, and Larry is planning to get some funding necessary for the event.

The RRS Symposium for 2024 has already been scheduled, and will occurr again at San Pedro’s Mary Star of the Sea High School. The Symposium will be held on Saturday, April 13th.

Secretary Joel raised some questions regarding the RRS’ historical publications during this month’s meeting. Previous regular publications include Aerojet and RRS News, and Vice-President Frank gave a brief description of their history. Joel and Frank discussed possibly publishing short-form articles on in the coming future.

Also, President Dave felt the need to mention that Executive council nominations will occurr in three months, in November. Any voting member of the society may nominate themselves and run for any position they wish. Dave is currently planning to step down from the Presidency, so there is guaranteed to be some shuffling of the Council this year.

The next society meeting will be on June 9th, 2023, at the Compton/Woodley Airport location. Contact the secretary for details.