by Frank Miuccio, Vice President, Reaction Research Society
The RRS held a launch event at our private testing site, the Mojave Test Area (MTA) on Saturday, May 21, 2022. Larry Hoffing was the pyrotechnic operator in charge. Temperatures were still mild and below 90 Fahrenheit. Winds were very slight for the entire event,
The main event was the launch of a number of student built model rocket kits using commercial motors. The second planned event was a member project, the two-stage Gas Guzzler ramjet, by Wolfram Blume. The third event was a cryogenic liquid tanking test at the vertical test standt of a portion of the Compton Comet liquid rocket overseen by Dave Nordling and Waldo Stakes.
The RRS teamed up with Boyle Heights YMCA and taught the students about rocketry over several weeks before the launch event. These students were the ones involved with the YMCA’s robotic program. We had 22 students come out to the MTA. During this launch day, we launched 23 Baby Bertha rockets all built from kits and custom painted by the students.
These rockets were launched first with smaller A8-3 engines. The students then retrieved their rockets and went into the Dosa Building and reassembled the parachutes for their next launch. The next launch was done with a larger C6-5 engine. All went well for the day.
We were able to use the new launch racks built by Dimitri Timohovich which gave us the capability to set up 18 rockets at a time which was our channel limit of our Cobra launch system. We have made a great investment with this safe and convenient product and more of our pyrotechnic operators are getting trained in its use thanks to Keith Yoerg.
The Boyle Heights YMCA wants to continue doing classes with the RRS. The students had a great experience.
The second event of that day was Wolfram Blume’s next attempt to launch the Gas Guzzler for its second flight. Significant design improvements were made. This very ambitious project is the result of a lot of complex design and 3D-printed parts which must fit correctly into their respective assemblies. Unfortunately, a critical fit problem with the nose piece prevented Wolfram from completing the build despite some on-the-spot adjustments. He postponed the flight to conduct minor repairs back at his home workshop. Wolfram plans to return to the MTA on June 4th at our next launch event with the UCLA Capstone Project.
The third operation at the MTA was a cryogenic liquid tanking test. The Compton Comet is a large liquid rocket being built by students and former students of Compton College. Led by Dave Nordling and Waldo Stakes, it is a project supported by the RRS and each person on the team is a member of the society. The Compton Comet describes both the vehicle which will be built and flown by the student members of the society and the team, itself. The ethanol/LOX vehicle uses a surplus 1500 lbf thrust chamber from an RM6000-4-1 engine once used to power the Bell X-1. The project is still in the latter parts of the design phase and important component testing is essential before committing more resources to construction. Bill Inman assisted with some of the operations that day.
The Compton Comet uses a pair of surplus stainless steel oxygen aircraft tanks. With the two tanks joined in series, a cold shock test with liquid nitrogen was done to verify their integrity after some minor welding was done. These tanks are decades old but have passed hydrotesting and visual inspection at the welded connections. These operations gave the student members hands-on experience with the safe transfer of cryogenic liquids. The society has acquired personnel protective equipment (PPE) such as polycarbonate faceshields, long elbow-length gloves and long cryogenic aprons to help future projects.
RRS member Diana Castillo recorded the time of each event and observations of the team as the tanking test progressed. The cryogenic liquid loading in uninsulated tanks is a slow process that loses much liquid to boiling. Eventually liquid nitrogen does accumulate in a tank if sufficient flow and capacity is available. The tank was vented at the top throughout the testing. A cryogenic rated relief valve to be used later in the full static fire was also present.
The second objective of this test was to demonstrate the pilot-operated solenoid valves intended for use as the main propellant valves of the vehicle. One of these high-pressure rated, normally-closed angle valves was connected at the bottom of this dual-tank setup. Cryogenic temperatures have been known to cause failures in electrical equipment. After attempting to fill the lower tank and having a significant amount of liquid nitrogen sitting at the inlet, the solenoid valve was well chilled for this functional test.
Before cryogenic loading, the valve was tested at ambient conditions using a pair of 12 VDC gel cells strapped in series to get the full 24 VDC needed to actuate the pilot solenoid. The circuit was switched by manually connecting the positive terminal by alligator clips. The distinct popping sound of the core stem moving inside was easily heard and very repeatable.
With the valve fully chilled after 40 minutes elapsed, the valve was tested again and functioned reliably. This is an important validation of the solenoid working in a relevant environment. The angle valve’s internal spring is very large and will require significant inlet pressure (150 psi?) to open. It was decided to leave the tanks vented at all times during this initial cryogenic liquid filling operation and leave a flow test for later. There were no signs of leakage from the valve outlet which was also a good result.
The Compton Comet project team recorded and discussed their findings. Leaving the tank vented, the liquid nitrogen boiled away in the warm afternoon. The remaining members enjoyed some time in the Dosa Building eating grilled burgers and hot dogs made by Waldo Stakes. Dimitri was able to reinforce the metal support legs of this donated propane gas grill to continue its service to the society.
The society cleared the areas and stored our gear. The next MTA event will be June 4th with the UCLA Senior Capstone Project. Wolfram Blume will return to fly the Gas Guzzler for a second flight. Dave Nordling will be the pyro-op in charge. Any other member projects are welcome and they should contact the RRS president to schedule them.
by Dave Nordling, Secretary, Reaction Research Society
The Reaction Research Society (RRS) met for our monthly meeting on Friday, October 11, 2019. We had a full agenda with three presenters and a lot discuss with upcoming events.
We had a few new people come to our meeting including Frank Chandler who works with the Cal Poly Pomona liquid rocket project. Frank joined the RRS as a member and we hope to see him and his students at future meetings and launch events.
We were also happy to have several Compton College students from their newly formed STEM club attend our meeting. The RRS is glad to support the efforts of university students in their ambitions to build liquid rockets and we’re happy to add Compton College to the growing list of organizations we support.
We called the meeting to order and after the reading of the treasury report, we started the first of our presentations.
 The Gas Guzzler Ramjet Project
Wolfram Blume is a new member to the society and he has been working for over eight years on a unique kind of rocket project that has been very rare in the long years of our society and probably in amateur rocketry as a whole. His two-stage rocket consists of a first-stage solid rocket booster using a commercial grade motor and a gasoline-fueled ramjet engine as a second stage. Both stages have a parachute recovery system and an onboard fuel management system.
Wolfram’s presentation was very thorough as this project is very complex. The RRS is still assessing the project in all of its aspects. With Wolfram’s permission, we’ll share the full set of details in a separate report here on RRS.ORG. The Gas Guzzler project still needs several more static tests conducted to prove key parts of the combustor. Flight tests of a dummy, unfueled ramjet and the solid booster are also being discussed. We hope to share more details as this exciting project evolves.
The RRS is happy to consider propulsion projects of all kinds, but every project must be peer-reviewed by the RRS before it is accepted for any testing at the MTA. Testing at the RRS MTA is by appointment only. All persons and groups interested in testing at the RRS MTA must submit a standard record form and all details of their proposed project. Our standard record form is available for download on our RRS.ORG website. These materials must be submitted to the RRS president and after careful review that a test can be scheduled.
 Bill Behenna, Avionics Payload for the RRS standard alpha rocket
With the many school events we’ve been having through the LAPD CSP, we have had many alpha rockets getting flown out of the MTA. The payload tubes are typically empty which creates a great opportunity for others to build and fly payloads in these small but powerful rockets being launched many times throughout the year.
Bill Behenna has been actively working on making a customized instrumentation package that would fit within the small confines of the long alpha payload tube. Barometric pressure measurements, accelerometer readings and air temperature would be recorded on a solid-state memory chip which have been shown to survive even the harsh sudden stop into the dry lake bed floor if the parachute recovery system fails.
Bill talked about his testing with his breadboard model using Arduino modules and an UNO microprocessor. These instrumentation packages can be challenging to make, but they can offer a lot of great information on the flight. The quality of data collection devices are ever increasing and the size and price of these instruments are ever decreasing. It is a great time to be in amateur rocketry. Many commercially available rocket instrumentation packages exist and are used more and more frequently in model rocketry. The particular challenge with the RRS standard alpha is its compact size and metallic construction.
 Review of John Krell’s Flight Data
In parallel to Bill Behenna’s efforts, John Krell has been working on a slim instrumentation package that measures the three-axis acceleration, barometric pressure and air temperature readings. He conducted several tests of his system which was able to record data and a speed sufficient to capture the rapid combustion of the alpha flight.
John was able to get his first prototype, actually two prototypes, ready to fly in alpha rockets #9 and #10 at the September 21 launch event. More importantly, the rockets were located downrange and extracted intact for examination. The data confirmed that the burnout velocity is in fact subsonic, the burn time is just short of 0.40 seconds and the altitude of both rockets is around 4000 feet. What is surprising is that the maximum acceleration from the alpha exceeds even the 100G limit of the sensor.
John’s report was very thorough and with his permission, the RRS will publish the full details of his project in a separate article here on RRS.ORG. The most important thing is that John is already building more units for more rocket flights that will take place at another launch event at the MTA. With more data, the flight parameters of the RRS alpha can be even better resolved.
 RRS presents at the CATIE conference at Antelope Valley College
The RRS was asked by Dr. Khalil Dajani to present at the California Aerospace Technology Institute of Excellence (CATIE) at the Antelope Valley College (AVC) in Lancaster, California on September 18, 2019. The conference was an event for government and commercial companies in the Antelope Valley to network and to forge beneficial partnerships in the aerospace industry.
I had asked Drew Cortopassi to attend the conference on behalf of the RRS. Drew was also able to attend the conference on behalf of the Aerospace Corporation as he works in the Propulsion Testing Lab in El Segundo. The RRS introduced ourselves as an educational non-profit group with resources that can help government and commercial companies with modest testing facilities. The RRS was also proud to share with the audience our long history in the pursuit of reaction propulsion and research.
 RRS social media
Alastair Martin is one of our two social media advisors to the RRS. As part of our regular monthly agenda, he briefed our audience on our Instagram and Facebook sites that we maintain along with the main website. Alastair’s company, Production Tribe LLC, is producing the Rocket Talk Radio podcast which includes RRS members and discusses current and historical topics related to rocketry.
 RRS launch events at the MTA
The RRS had a successful launch event with Boyle Heights on September 21 as detailed in a prior firing report. The RRS is glad to announce that another launch event will occur at the MTA before the year’s end.
Frank Miuccio, our society vice president and our point of contact with the LAPD CSP, announced the next educational event will begin on October 25, 2019. This 5-week course will be with 99th Street Elementary School in Watts. The final step is the launch event at the RRS MTA on December 7, 2019. The exact number of rockets is not known yet, but we are expecting 10 alphas.
 The RRS history project
The RRS history project is an on-going task to archive and collect all historical materials. George Garboden has graciously donated a large number of documents to the society for storage, archival and scanning. The RRS is glad to accept these materials to help bring more of our history to more of our members. More than just the careful preservation of the reports and papers, is the larger task of sorting and scanning them. We hope to enlist more of our membership to devote the time and care needed for the long-term success of this project.
 Update from the 2020 Constitutional Committee
The RRS Constitution is in the process of being revised to better reflect how the society functions today and making important clarifications of parts that were somewhat ambiguous. This three-person committee was appointed by the executive council in February this year and consists of one executive council member, Frank Miuccio, and two of our administrative members in the society.
The painstaking task of going through every page and every paragraph of the Constitution is almost half finished. After a complete review of the whole document, the committee will present it’s findings and a recommended draft to the administrative membership for their questions and comments. This was hoped to be completed by November 2019 with the goal of attempting ratification by the new year, 2020.
The committee has decided to continue the use of an RRS policy listing which would contain the more specific or quantitative aspects of the society such as the annual dues amounts. Simpler and less categorical changes could be amended more easily by the council or by the administrative membership. The Constitution itself requires a higher level of approval for any changes which includes a two-thirds majority vote by the administrative membership. There will be more on this subject when the committee completes it’s initial task hopefully by next month’s meeting in November 2019.
 The 2020 symposium
The RRS agreed to hold the next symposium in 2020 continuing the annual tradition. Our membership commitment to making this next symposium an even larger and greater success is strong. Frank is working on confirming the next symposium date which may be March 28, 2020, if the Ken Nakaoka Community Center can confirm. The society will try to hold this event a little earlier in the year to hopefully avoid the onset of the warmer temperatures. The community center does not have air-conditioning and we do expect a larger crowd as this has been the trend since we restarted symposium events in 2017.
 The treasurer’s report on membership
Chris Lujan, the RRS treasurer was not able to provide his report on our membership roster and status. We hope to bring this report to the next meeting where we will show how well the society is doing in keeping current with receiving annual dues payments and show how much our membership roster has grown in these last few years.
 Reminder for annual nominations for RRS Executive Council at the November meeting
Per our Constitution, the RRS will be taking nominations for each of the four executive council positions at the RRS. Positions are only open to administrative members of the RRS, and we have been expanding our ranks with former administrative members returning to active status and newer members being inducted in the last two years. Nominations can be made at the next meeting of the RRS, November 8, 2019.
With nominations received, the RRS will appoint an election chairman, to conduct the voting process with the results announced at the December 13, 2019 meeting. All elected executive council members will begin their new terms at the start of the new calendar year, January 1, 2020.
This October 2019 meeting was one of the best we’ve had since my time with the RRS. A lot of great projects are in the making and we’re getting more and more data to share with the society. The society is growing and we’re glad that our enthusiasm is spreading.
The next meeting will be November 8, 2019, on the second Friday of each month as usual at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena. If there are any questions about this October meeting, please contact the RRS secretary. Hope to see everyone back again in November..
The Reaction Research Society held another launch event with the LAPD CSP. This event was with the students of Boyle Heights. We had ten standard alphas launched into the blue Mojave sky that day including some model rockets made by Russell Hoffing and my grandson.
We had students from the CSU Long Beach liquid rocket team come out to make some measurements for sub-system testing that they are planning at the RRS MTA this year.
Returning RRS member, John Krell, had worked up two prototype instrumentation packages for flights in the ninth and tenth RRS standard alphas on that day. Both rockets were recovered and the results were impressive.
Materials have been acquired to repair the adjustable rail launcher that was damaged in early August this year. Osvaldo has been busy at work on the repairs. The RRS has several facility improvement projects in the works and we hope to bring this rail launcher back to service soon for larger rockets (4 to 6 inches).
John will hopefully have a full report and an overview of his design. Both Bill Behenna and Brian Johnson are also working on their own instrumentation designs for the RRS standard alpha. With this recent progress, this should help our others members take better data.
We’ll discuss more of the results of this event in detail at the next RRS meeting on October 11, 2019. The RRS meets every 2nd Friday at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena, California. Stop in and see how things went.