The Reaction Research Society is proud to announce our 80th anniversary symposium to be held at the Mary Star of the Sea High School in San Pedro on Saturday, April 15, 2023, from 8am to 5pm. We have 15 speakers and over 20 exhibitions which is on par with our last symposium four years ago before the pandemic.
Mary Star of the Sea High School is at 2500 N. Taper Avenue in San Pedro, California, 90731.
Gates will be open at 7:15AM for exhibitors to set up. The event will start at 8:00AM sharp.
The gymnasium will hold our exhibitors. Room 108 will have the presentations. Seating is limited. All speakers must be present at least 15 minutes ahead of their speaking time.
Below is a tentative list of our speakers. The list is subject to change without notice.
Opening and first session, 8:00-8:30am, Dave Nordling, President, RRS.ORG
8:30-9:00am, by remote, Ichiro Ausin, et al, University of Michigan
9:00-9:30am, Dr. Steven Chambreau, Air Force Research Laboratory, Edwards AFB
9:30-10:00am, Eric Schmidt, Exquadrum Inc.
10:00-10:30am, Mark Ventura, Ventura Energy Systems
10:30-11:00am, Dean Theodor, Federal Aviation Administration
11:00-11:30am, Julia Woomer et al, USC Rocket Propulsion Laboratory
11:30-12noon, Blake Spahr et al., UCLA Rocket Project
Lunch Break 12:00-1:00pm
1:00-1:30pm, Dr. Frank Chandler, California Polytechnic Pomona
1:30-2:00pm, Dr. Jerry Fuller, Aerospace Corporation
2:00-2:30pm, Tre Willingham et al, Compton Comet
2:30-3:00pm, Caleb Phillips and Vijay Mepani, CALFIRE
3:00-3:30pm, Jack Caldwell et al, Caltech
3:30-4:00pm, Darrell Chua et al, UC San Diego SEDS
4:00-4:30pm, Patrick Finley, Lander Challenge
Closing and thanks, Dave Nordling, President, RRS.ORG
Free tickets on Eventbrite are still available. Many thanks again to Peter Thorpe for his background artwork and to Mary Star of the Sea High School in San Pedro, California, for graciously hosting this event. Food/drinks/snacks will be provided by Mary Star High School.
For questions, please contact our vice president, Frank Miuccio.
Our April 14th monthly meeting will be also held at the Mary Star High School auditorium at 7:30pm. We will discuss a few items of business but largely we will be preparing the site for the next day.
We look forward to celebrating amateur rocketry with the community.
by Dave Nordling, President, Reaction Research Society
UCLA Rocket Project conducted a static fire test series at the Mojave Test Area on February 5, 2022. i was the pyrotechnic operator in charge for the event. Bill Inman of the RRS was also present as my apprentice in overseeing operations leading to hot-fire that day. UCLA returned with improved launch control and instrumentation boxes. They also invested in plastic tube mounting fixtures for cleaner routing of their low pressure plastic pneumatic lines.
UCLA had three liquid engines prepared for testing which was a very aggressive goal. Some problems occurred in ethanol fuel tanking operation which resulted in a minor spill. Ethanol is volatile and very flammable, but dissipates quickly and doesn’t pose a lasting hazard or contaminant.
The issue was partially with the procedure lacking precise metering of a prescribed volume and part with a lack of coordination between the teams. Fuel loading is not considered one of the more challenging tasks but even simple items can cause serious problems if the team fails to keep their focus, The RRS has recommended UCLA reconsider and revise their procedures as needed but also to take a wider view of what operations are in place and who is doing what, where and when. Coordination is a full time job requiring diligent leadership and responsible participants,
The first engine in the series was a modified version of a prior impinging injector used in last year’s flight. The team was able to complete propellant loading and retreat back to the blockhouse for pressurization operations. All proceeded well until the last part of the countdown.
Ignition failure scrubbed the first firing attempt as the F-sized rocket motor lit but propelled itself downrange pneumatically under excessive pressure built up enough to eject the fixture off the engine before the team could commit to firing. Per UCLA’s procedures, the spotter correctly indicated ”no fire” which caused the launch team to safely abort the sequence. The team held on the release of the pressurant and opted to remotely relieve the system as allowed in their plumbing design after the umbilicals were released. As there was no remote means of draining the LOX, the pneumstically actuated vent was left open to allow the LOX to boil out and with sufficient time elapsed the team was able to approach.
The 3D-printed clamp-on fixture that held the igniter was examined and reassembled. The decision was made to drill large vent holes in the plastic two-piece clamshell which would help in the next firing attempt. Unfortunately, the second firing attempt failed to achieve ignition. This time, the spotter did see and hear the F-sized hobby motor fire but the igniter was not energetic enough to light the initial propellant streams. The LOX and ethanol streamed from the engine during the blowdown period and quickly evaporated without fire or explosion. This is a potential failure mode that all liquid hot-fires must plan for. Ethanol and liquid oxygen do not contaminate the area and are quickly dissipated but a chilled pre-mixture of fuel and oxidizer is quite dangerous.
Duringn the hardware switch, we had some discussion about different methods of ignition including automotive diesel glowplug systems and high-voltage stungun transformer cells all powered by 12-volt battery or capacitor-based small power sources, Both would require significant development and only a test with cryogenic propellant would be a fair test of these devices. UCLA had some interest in exploring these options but it would have to wait to the next academic year.
I discussed UCLA’s methods of scrubbing their test and recommended they put in a safer means of draining their LOX and ethanol in future operations. This will be discussed before subsequent tests at the MTA.
UCLA has had good results from pyrotechnic igniters using cut-down lances, but these are not easy to acquire as they are ATF-regulated. UCLA decided to try hobby rocket motors which had problems in this first engine test series. The only option forward was to continue using the vented fixture fitted for F-motors and a hope a prior ignition failure did not occur.
With the mobile test stand in place, the second engine tested was the injector design that will fly on UCLA’s rocket. It is the same one used lsst year which worked well. The first injector was unable to be tested that day due to ignition problems and UCLA’s decision to proceed with the second engine as their backup. Time was becoming short as the late afternoon arrived and UCLA had to switch over to their mobile testing rig which would hold the second and third engines when tested.
Liquid oxygen quantities in the cylinder ran low and full oxidizer tank load wasn’t possible for what would be the last test of the day. After finishing the LOX tanking, UCLA retreated to the blockhouse for final checks before second firing. No igniter problems were seen with this second engine, but it was a possibility given the recent problems with the first test series.
The hot-fire went to nearly full duration but the burn likely finished fuel rich. Some buzzing was evident so UCLA will review the data to see if the same instability seen in prior firings was present. It didn’t seem to be damaging and if the performance is still sufficient UCLA should have at least one good engine to fly in May when they try to surpass the university-built liquid rocket altitude record.
The third engine was left for a later test date. UCLA is considering another hot-fire series but only after a full review of the data from February 5th.
My thanks to fellow RRS member, Bill Inman, for making the long drive from Carson City, Nevada to support this test.
Also, a big thanks to Eric Beckner of Friends of Amateur Rocketry for staying late and handling the return of the liquid oxygen cylinder.
The RRS is glad to support university teams with our unique facilities at the Mojave Test Area (MTA). Contact the society at ”firstname.lastname@example.org” for those interested in similar projects.
The Reaction Research Society held it’s monthly meeting by teleconference on Friday, October 8, 2021. Some of our members were on travel, but the those in attendance were able to discuss several important issues.
The USC RPL static fire event on 9-26-2021 was safely conducted but ended in a explosion and fire which was ably contained. This was a good example of careful preparations and good management of the people present for the event. A firing report has been posted for this event. Osvaldo Tarditti was the pyrotechnic operator in charge that day.
UCLA had requested the use of the MTA on 10/16/2021 for their next liquid rocket engine test. The MTA was already reserved for Bill Claybaugh’s solid rocket flight that same day and in the days leading up to the event. Dave Nordling was the pyro-op in charge, A firing report for this event will be posted,
UCLA is planning to hold their conceptual design review (CoDR) on 10/22/21 for the next iteration of their liquid rocket. RRS members Dave Nordling and John Krell plan to attend.
Wolfram Blume was on the call and said he was eager to return to the MTA for a second flight attempt of the Gas Guzzler ramjet. With the summer heat gone, he hopes to return at our next launch event which is still being planned. It is hoped that the society can continue their streak of having at least one MTA event per month as we have done since the start of 2021.
The restroom container was purchased and brought to the Compton Airport for interior construction. This 20-foot high cube has a 9.5 foot ceiling and should be able to have two individual rooms with toilet and sink, one of these to have a shower stall. Osvaldo had drafted a floor plan and this was approved by the council. The society will be meeting at the Compton Airport on Saturday, October 23rd, for a late morning barbecue and an in-person discussion of the materials needed to get the restroom interior built. All members are welcome but please notify Keith, Wilbur, Xavier or Dave Nordling if you’re coming as they have access to the airport.
There was some discussion about the septic system and leach field. It is important to maintain an appropriate distance from any nearby water wells, one of which is on Polaris Propulsion property. Sufficient clearance exists based on measurements made and EPA guidelines. The leach field will be positioned to drain away to the north.
The society is considering buying a concrete septic tank but RRS member Wilbur Owens may have a plastic septic tank already available for the society. Some members feel a concrete septic tank will last longer and be less likely to leak. The council is still debating this feature and should render a decision soon.
The society also discussed the water supply to the restroom container and the supporting structure needed to hold a tank on top of the container. There are many important facets to this infrastructure addition which must be weighed carefully.
Nominations for RRS executive council offices will be held at next month’s meeting, November 12th, 2nd Friday of the month at 7:30pm. An election chairman will be selected beforehand and this person must be an active member not holding office nor running for office. A special email address will be set up for the election chairman to gather votes from our active administrative and lifetime members. Results to be announced at the December 10th meeting and new terms to start January 1, 2022.
For any questions, please contact the RRS secretary.