December 2021 Virtual Meeting


by Keith Yoerg (RRS Secretary)


The latest meeting of the Reaction Research Society took place by teleconference on Friday, December 10th and had twelve attendees.

Screenshot of discussion during the monthly meeting

RECAP OF KEITH YOERG’S NOVEMBER LAUNCH OF “THE HAWK”

Keith kicked off the meeting with a recap of the first launch of his rocket “The Hawk” an 8-inch diameter 14-foot tall rocket that was flown from the RRS Mojave Test Area on November 28th. The rocket utilized the 1515 rail launcher which was secured in place to one of the concrete pads using sandbags and tie-downs. The motor was a 98mm Cesaroni M1790 Skidmark which features sparks in the trail.

First launch of Keith Yoerg’s rocket “The Hawk”

Keith shared some slow-motion video of the flight captured with a GoPro camera and other data from the flight, including a 3D flight path. The rocket reached an altitude of 4,846 feet as measured by the barometer on the onboard AltusMetrum Telemega flight computer, and was successfully recovered with only minimal damage to the body tube. The rocket is in the process of being prepared for another launch on December 17th to coincide with the anniversary of the Wright Brothers first flight.

Map of the flight path with barometric altitudes in red and GPS in blue. The GPS appears less reliable on this flight.

RESULTS OF THE 2022 RRS EXECUTIVE COUNCIL ELECTIONS

Election chairman Drew Cortopassi presented the results of the 2022 executive council elections. The RRS Executive Council for 2022 is as follows:

President:    David Nordling
Vice President:    Frank Miuccio
Secretary:    Keith Yoerg
Treasurer:    Larry Hoffing

The society members in attendance congratulated the incoming new president and other incumbent officers and expressed their gratitude to outgoing president Osvaldo Tarditti for his stewardship of the organization. Osvaldo noted that the future of the group looks bright, and promised to send anyone who asks him a question a photo of him fishing.

USC SOLID ROCKET GRAINS STATIC FIRING

Osvaldo and Dimitri provided a recap of the lengthy solid rocket motor testing campaign that USC conducted at the MTA from December 4-5. On Saturday the 4th, the team worked through the night until around 2 am to be able to complete their goal of firing 20 separate grains of solid fuel by 2:45 pm on Sunday the 5th. The only reported mishap was that the U-Haul the USC team rented broke down just after leaving the dirt road to the MTA, which Dimitri suspected was because they had been using the battery from it to fire the rocket motors.

While the campaign was an ambitious one, the repetitious nature allowed them to get some of the younger students involved who wouldn’t normally be able to take part in on a day when only one motor is being fired. It was remarked that having more young members with hands-on experience is very good for the future of their program and the continuity of knowledge after the upperclassmen graduate. Dimitri mentioned that additional work will be needed to fill in the area of ground blasted away by all the recent USC solid rocket static firings – which has been affectionately named the “Trojan Trench.”

On the same weekend, a team at the FAR launch site launched their “Genesis” rocket – a hypergolic liquid propellant rocket that has been in development since the early 1980’s. Several RRS members had worked on the rocket at various times during its design and fabrication process. Unfortunately, the parachute system did not work and the tanks ruptured on the landing causing a small fire that self-extinguished but was visible from the MTA.

A THANK-YOU FOR DIMITRI’S RECENT WORK AT THE MTA

Our outgoing president, Osvaldo Tarditti, took a moment to extend a special thank you to RRS member Dimitri Timohovich for all of the recent work he has done in improving the facilities we have available at the MTA. Not only did he take the lead in the recent blockhouse roof repair which included several trips up to the site for the initial build, cutting the edges, and installing the tar paper, but he also donated four propane bottles for the society to use in the heaters and BBQ up at the Dosa Building.

The old blockhouse with a new roof.

In addition, Dimitri has agreed to take on the bulk of the work in building out the interior of the containerized bathroom. Three concrete pads have been poured at the MTA to accommodate this 20-foot high cube container as well as another one adjacent to it.

Future site of the RRS containerized restroom facility.

Osvaldo has procured most of the fixtures for the interior and plans to drop them off at Dimitri’s house – where the container will be delivered so that he can work on it more easily. Dimitri gave a tentative timeline of mid-January 2022 for when the container may be ready for transport out to the MTA.

PLANNING FOR MTA EVENT ON DECEMBER 17

Keith discussed his plans for a second launch of “The Hawk” on Friday, December 17th – this time on a Cesaroni N2600 motor. In addition, Dimitri has an RRS Standard Alpha rocket constructed and ready for launch and Osvaldo agreed to prepare one for Keith to get experience with the Zinc-Sulphur rockets. Dimitri volunteered to bring food for the group – award winning caribou chili made from meat they hunted, dressed, and prepped themselves in Alaska.

CALIFORNIA’S NEWEST ROCKETS CLASS 1 PYROTECHNICS OPERATOR

RRS member Dave Nordling informed the group that he recently learned that he passed his Class 1 Rockets Pyrotechnic Operator’s License exam. Congratulations Dave!

Office of the State Fire Marshall (OSFM) governs the licensing of pyrotechnic operators in California.

With additional members continuing to work towards earning their licenses, we can make sure that the RRS is able to accommodate a wide range of rocketry testing and schedule requests.

NEXT MONTHLY MEETING

As a reminder – yearly membership dues are due January 1st. Please click on the yellow “Donate” button on the right panel of this website to pay online via PayPal, or mail a check to the society post office box in Los Angeles.

Reaction Research Society; P. O. Box 90933; Los Angeles, California, 90009-0933

The next RRS monthly meeting will be held virtually on Friday, January 14th 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 are receiving the meeting invitation.

MTA work event, 2020-10-03

by Dave Nordling, Reaction Research Society


The long awaited work event at the Reaction Resesrch Society’s private testing site, the Mojave Test Area (MTA) took place as planned on Saturday, October 3rd. We had a good turn-out to take on a few of the much needed repairs, cleaning and maintenance activities around the site. These work events not only improve the site but also enhance it’s appearance for our visiting guests. The RRS takes pride in our one-of-a-kind site and working on our site makes us all more closely connected as public activities are so few during these unprecedented times. All activities were able to maintain social distancing and everyone had their mask.

The primary purpose of this event was maintence activities but secondarily we were ready to conduct launches if members had projects ready. I was the pyro-op in charge for that day if there was to be any launches. Wolfram had cancelled his first flight attempt of the Gas Guzzler two-stage rocket due to concerns with excessive heat. Also, my next attempt to fly my nitrous-oxide hybrid rocket was postponed as we needed more people to work the planned maintenance events throughout that day. Bill Inman had contacted me with his proposed solar heater experiment. After a cursory review of his experiment, the society allowed him to proceed. Bill makes a very long journey to the MTA from Carson City, Nevada, and we are glad he has chosen the MTA to conduct his initial experiments for his next generation steam rocket.

Osvaldo led the repair and refurbishment efforts that day. Despite the higher peak temperatures that day, a lot of work was done which has helpful in restoring the site.

The arched sign welcomes our membership and guests to the RRS MTA. Still looking great after years in the desert.

REPAIR OF THE 8-INCH ADJUSTABLE BOX RAIL LAUNCHER

The 8-inch adjustable box-rail launcher was damaged in a failed solid motor launch last year at the MTA. The resulting explosion destroyed the four adjustable rail guides and distorted a few of the box frame members. Given the heavy and large size of this box rail launcher, it was only practical to conduct repairs at the site and bring in new steel materials to be cut, grinded and fitted for welding such that all parts fit correctly.

Getting ready to build new rails in the 8-inch adjustable rail launcher

The replacement rail guides used thick square stock instead of the previously used round stock. This was done for both having a flatter surface for clamping and holding the rails in place but it also made moving the rails easier to do than with the closer fitting round rails. The square slider pieces were also more easily welded to the square rails with much grinding.

Osvaldo and Dmitri did excellent work. With the right tools, material and skill, the job was done by mid-afternoon. The four rails are back in place, but some of the box rail members remain bent or distorted. Although not entirely perfect, the rail launcher should now be useful again for future tests,

John Krell (left) and Dmitri Timohovich (right) inspect the repairs on the 8-inch box rail launcher at the RRS MTA on 10/3/2020

TUMBLEWEED AND BRUSH REMOVAL

A lot of the team was working on clearing the immediate area of tumbleweeds near the many structures and sites around the MTA. Alastair Martin and Keith Yoerg worked many hours with a metal rake and shovel and made a marked difference around several overgrown spots. Tumbleweeds are a persistent nuisance throughout the western United States and Mexico as they thrive in the dry hot climate. Removing them is fairly easy, but disposing of them is far more challenging. Fire hazards are one of the topmost concerns in amateur rocketry. Our desert launch site is always under this threat. By periodic clearing and disposal, the threat of fire propagation can be minimized.

Clearing the east side of the container fenced area.
The large vertical test stand after some clearing efforts both on the ground and on the upper decks.
Second view of the large vertical test stand at the RRS MTA at the end of our 10/3/2020 work event.
Waldo drags an old iron launch platform to clear the vegetation from around the MTA site

Keith and Alastair did a lot of hard work in manually clearing the edges and the upper decks of the vertical test stand. Waldo Stakes was also kind enough to drag the area to clear wider spaces more quickly, The result is a clearer work area better able to conduct rocketry activities at the MTA.

CORROSION PREVENTION AND PAINTING

Frank Miuccio and Chris Lujan worked on the metal lattice covers on the two front windows of the Dosa Building. They sanded and brushed on rust remover to clear the surfaces for a protective paint coating, It was a lot of fine detailed work but the resulting look of the metal grates without rust looks so much better.

Frank carefully sands, treats and paints the metal lattice covering on the front windows of the George Dosa building at the 10/3/2020 MTA work event.
Chris Lujan steps back from his work on the other front window of the George Dosa building.

Little touch-ups can be very time-consuming but it is worth taking the time to do the job well. There are many areas around the MTA that could benefit from some corrosion removal and surface protection. Although the desert is dry, the caustic, salty, dry lake environment can erode steel surfaces over the years.

SOLAR CONCENTRATOR EXPERIMENT

RRS corresponding member, Bill Inman came out to the RRS MTA work event to conduct a test of his first prototype solar concentrator for heating his next generation steam rocket. The experiment was a simple apparatus design to focus sunlight on a length of 2-inch black-painted iron pipe holding roughly 2,7 liters of water.

The wooden box had two angled mirrors to focus most of the incident sunlight near the pipe. To avoid natural convection losses, his concentrator had a clear glass panel enclosure. In essence it is a trough heater. The goal was simply to understand the practical operation of this first device and make improvements to see if a solar-based heating scheme for a steam rocket is feasible. Bill’s device had approximate pressure relief should the concentrator over-perform.

Bill Inman’s first prototype solar trough collector for heating a steam rocket tested on 10/3/2020

Results were a little lower than expected, but a measurable gain in water temperature was measured after operating throughout that afternoon, Air temperatures reached a peak of 104 degrees Fahrenheit (F) and the peak water temperature was 180F, far short of boiling temperature (212F) at amibent pressure. Effective steam rocket temperatures are often around 350F to 400F. There is more work to be done.

A FEW SMALL ROCKETS LAUNCHED

Keith Yoerg prepares the Big Bertha for launch on his wire rail launcher.

Keith Yoerg had brought a few small rocket kits for launching at the MTA during a break in the maintenance work. A classic Big Bertha and Baby Bertha each with B6-4 motors. The winds were very light and good for launching these small rockets. Both were ably recovered.

IDEAS FOR FUTURE WORK AT THE MTA

Near the end of the day, we discussed new improvement tasks at the MTA. A few of these were listed below:

  • Further removal and disposal of tumbleweeds, there are a lot along the eastern fence and in the flame bucket of the large vertical thrust stand. Burning them under controlled conditions is one possibility but winds must be very low
  • More ideas for the new restroom facility were discussed that could take advantage of pre-existing materials or assets at the MTA
  • Removal and replacement of the bent steel panel on the vertical thrust stand. New steel panels were made with the matching hole pattern.
  • Rust removal, corrosion prevention and painting of the large vertical test stand structure is a lengthy project but would greatly improve the look of the whole site.
  • Removal and replacement of the old blockhouse roof and shoring up the existing walls is being considered as a lower cost upgrade to this important and often used asset at the MTA.
Taking some measurements around the bent panel on the vertical test stand at the RRS MTA

It was a great team effort that day and everyone worked very hard. Nearly all of the planned objectives were accomplished. It has been suggested that another work event at the MTA be planned for next month. We also hope to work in a few launches if we can.

These ideas and other topics will be discussed at the next meeting of the RRS on Friday, October 9th. We’ll hold this meeting by teleconference again due to COVID-19 restrictions. Those wishing to attend should contact the RRS secretary.

secretary@rrs.org