MTA Launch Event, 2024-06-29

by Dave Nordling and Chase Lang, Reaction Research Society

The Reaction Research Society (RRS) held a small launch event at private testing site, the Mojave Test Area (MTA) on Saturday, June 29, 2024. Dave Nordling served as the pyrotechnic operator in charge for this event. RRS director of research, Rushd Julfiker, was also present to oversee the event. The weather was hot, reaching 100F, and the winds were holding still up until about 1pm. New associate member, Mia Marshall, came out to the MTA for the first time and we were glad to show her around the MTA and discuss the kinds of projects our members do.

On Saturday, June 29th, Chase and Jeff Lang conducted a series of tests to evaluate two experimental solid rocket propellants: Performance Fast 2 (PF2) and the Basic Batch. Each of the three “I”-sized 38mm motors fired correctly to the expected burn duration. The primary objective was to characterize the burn rate of PF2 using three test motors, each fitted with progressively smaller nozzles. Additionally, we aimed to test fly a rocket powered by Basic Batch propellant, which had been previously characterized.

For the PF2 testing, we prepared three motors, each with a different nozzle size to observe the effects on the burn rate. The tests were conducted on a custom test stand equipped with a load cell and pressure transducer for precise measurement of thrust and chamber pressure. The data from only the last two of the three firings were recorded and plotted below.

Following the PF2 tests, we launched a rocket powered by a reloaded 38mm Aerotech DMS motor loaded with Basic Batch propellant. This propellant had previously been characterized during a prior visit to the RRS, where we ended up with unburned grains due to a low Kn value. These grains were repurposed for the current test. The rocket achieved an altitude of over 6,000 feet and was successfully recovered with the aid of a custom-built Radio Direction Finding (RDF) beacon. The rocket was recovered downrange to the east thanks to higher winds that picked only just before launch after 1PM that day.

Also joining us that day was associate member, Bill Nelson. Stepping into our crew cabin, B/15, has been challenging given the large difference in height between the door and ground outside. Bill built the society a good step which makes getting in and out much easier.

The crew cabin was used for the temporary storage of hardware and tools as well as an inside work area during the cooler earlier months for the 1936 GALCIT liquid rocket engine replica built for American Artist and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Given the success of the firing and filming event on June 8-9th, the project team brought all hardware and tools back to our shared workspace at the Compton/Woodley Airport where the pieces can be prepared for this fall’s exhibition at LACMA. The project team was grateful to Rushd and Mia for assisting with the moving of parts into trucks.

The next RRS monthly meeting will be July 12th at the front office of the Compton/Woodley Airport at 7:30pm. Meetings are always the 2nd Friday of each month and a good opportunity to discuss projects you’d like to do at the RRS MTA. Anyone interested in attending a meeting is welcome. Please contact the RRS secretary or any member of the executive council. Teleconference information can be provided for those attending remotely.

Chase Lang has asked the society to fund the building of a second 1515 launch rail at the RRS MTA. The executive council is assessing his proposal. The RRS is expanding our launch capabilities now that significant improvements to our basic infrastructure are completed. The council will likely discuss this at the next meeting.

Also RRS associate member, Zach Lesan, has made significant progress in building the mobile trailer for the society’s LNG horizontal cryogenic liquid cylinder. We hope to complete construction and testing successfully and have this asset ready for safe use this fall.

Next event at the RRS MTA will be with Aerospace Corporation as our client. Osvaldo Tarditti will be the pyrotechnic operator in charge. Also, several of our newer members have indicated interest in flying micrograin alphas at a forthcoming event. Jim Gross may oversee that event as the pyro-op in charge when the president schedules it. By society policy, all members and outside parties interested in using the RRS MTA or just visiting the site must first contact and be approved by the RRS president.