MTA Launch Event, 2023-11-24

by Dave Nordling, President, RRS.ORG

The RRS met at the Mojave Test Area for a work event on the 60-foot launch rail project. While we were there, we had a launch or two thanks to Bill Inman and Keith Yoerg. The pyrotechnic operator in charge for that day was Keith Yoerg.

Bill brought one of his older rocket bodies. Unfortunately he had a mishandling error on the pad which broke one of his fins requiring repair. His mission was to test the avionics package that he will use in flight on the Solar Cat. Keith launched some smaller Estes model rockets to show one of our youngest potential members the basics of rocketry.

The work event benefited from having Osvaldo Tarditti, Joe Dominguez and Dimitri Timohovich moving the donated ham radio tower to the 40-foot flatbed next to Bldg. 11 for inspection. The goal was to fully extend the tower and examine its condition to see what modifications are necessary to use it in our 60-foot launch rail design.

Our thanks goes to member, Waldo Stakes, for finding and donating this old galvanized steel ham radio tower which can be reinforced, modified and slightly lengthened to create the stiff backbone for the launch rail guide. The tower was designed to be extensible, but the society will fully extend and fuse it at its full length. Several areas of repair were identified but with a little persistence and forcible persuasion, the structure was extended in preparation for the next event when our welder will start the initial work at the next work event in 2 weeks.

Our director of research, Rushd Julfiker, was selected as the project manager for this major infrastructure item that should allow university teams to launch from the RRS Mojave Test Area. With the basic requirements set at the first meeting, the sketches produced will be converted to CAD drawing files with Rushd’s assistance. Initial material procurement will begin as the backbone frame has been found to be acceptable for use in the design.

The loads are being carefully calculated along with sizing the dual-acting hydraulic ram system for raising and lowering. Waldo Stakes also found a pair of 3-inch cylinders and an electric hydraulic pump in surplus and donated them to the society. Their specifications are being assessed if they can be used which would save some costs.

In the days following the event, we put in wooden privacy panels in the windows of Bldg’s 14 and 15 both for security and improved insulation. The society will soon be discussing how to minimally furnish the interiors for functional needs only including some storage of our consumables. No pyrotechnics will be stored in these containers. Both Bldg 14 and 15 have air conditioners and insulation but still require connections to power. In the short term, each can be powered by our portable gasoline generator. In the near term, once fully funded the society will power both assets from a larger diesel generator we recently acquired.

Dimitri spoke about finding another 40-foot container which could be used for an on-site workshop at the RRS MTA (potentially new Bldg. 16). The council will have to consider this addition at the next meeting.

Lastly, Dimitri installed a solar powered light just above one of the restroom doors which will help our overnight guests find their way to sanitary relief on a moonless night.

Our launch pad pour was delayed to December 9th due to concrete availability. We’re making it thicker than most anticipating the greater loads of the launch rail structure. Our next work event at the MTA will coincide with the pad pour where we will continue the 60-foot launch rail work starting with the launch rail backbone. Materials will be procured in advance of the next meeting.

Also, our last monthly meeting of the year will be the day before, December 8th, 7:30pm, where election results for next year’s executive council will be announced. Also, it was declared that the December meeting will be our much anticipated pizza party funded by the accumulated funds from the RRS Amazon Smile account, now discontinued. Please arrive early at the front office of the Compton/Woodley Airport.

November 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.



  • Nominations
  • Constitutional amendments
  • 60’ Launch Rail Status
  • Surplus generator purchased
  • Website development
  • MailChimp membership application form
  • Cash dues payment protocol
  • Social Media Accounts Status
  • Executive Council VoiP
  • 2024 Symposium
  • Tabs for a Cause Update
  • William Claybaugh Launch Rail Donation
  • Office and Crew Cabin Furnishings
  • Dues, Donations Email for 2024
  • Electric Drill Purchase for MTA
  • Project Proposal: Frame, Insulate, Finish Dosa Building Interior
  • USC RPL 10/21 Static Fire
  • Hot Nozzle Society Event at FAR 10/28
  • Possible UCLA MTA Event, Mid-November
  • Jerry Irvine Obituary
  • New Members: Anthony Padilla, Zach Lesan


At this meeting we held nominations for our annual Executive Council elections. We started with nominations for lower offices, ending in nominations for the President.

The first office we held nominations for was the Treasurer. Michael Rouleau was the first person nominated, followed by Keith Yoerg nominating Xavier Marshall. Finally, our current Treasurer Larry Hoffing nominated himself. This is the first time in many years that any office has been contested, and we’re very pleased to see such enthusiasm among the administrative membership.

The second office to receive nominations was the Secretary, for which Joel Cool-Panama will run unopposed. The Vice-President was next, and Keith Yoerg was the sole nominee. Finally, we held nominations for the President. Frank nominated Dimitri, but he refused. Following this, Frank himself was nominated.

Past Business

The first piece of old business discussed was the 60′ launch rail project. Despite taking on the project, Polaris has yet to produce any schematics for a launch rail, for which reason our President Dave Nordling has personally taken on the project. Dave, Dimitri, Waldo, Rushd, and some others went out to the MTA, looking over assets available to the Society for a 60′ launch rail. While there they also decided on the location, which is to be 30′ north of Claybaugh’s launch rail. As of now, they plan to meet again the weekend following Thanksgiving, during which time they hope to have National Concrete pour a 12′ x 12′ x 1′ rebar reinforced pad for the project. They will be using the previously donated telescoping radio tower as a base, extending it to reach 60′, and will likely use a well qualified welder known by Dimitri.

Following this was a discussion of the surplus generator. The US Navy generator was purchased by Dimitri on our behalf for $5,500 on October 17th. Along with it comes a DVD containing a several hundred page manual. Starting up the generator is apparently a task in itself, so Dimitri is to produce a SOP for us. A 10′ container and pad are planned for this item, but will be discussed at a later date.

An unfortunate turn of events occurred around the time of last month’s meeting, when the beta website went offline without warning. After trying to contact the developer, Franklin, about this for a few weeks, he eventually responded by telling us we’d need to pay $200 to bring the website back online for a year. Meanwhile, Joel has been working on rewriting, reorganizing, and updating the current website. At the meeting Joel was asked if he thought
we needed the beta website, to which he responded resolutely in the negative. Joel’s expected to continue updating the current website from here on.

During the previous month, Joel discovered to our email campaign manager, MailChimp, offers an automated mailing list signup form. Joel suggested using this as an automated membership application form. Our Treasurer Larry had a problem with this though, insisting that this automated form must have a waiver attached to it. The membership discussed the viability of an online release waiver, and Larry insisted that our most up to date membership
application form included this waiver. Upon prompting further discussion over the waiver, Larry stated he only wanted to discuss it in an Executive Council meeting.

In the following month, Joel successfully gained administrative rights to our Facebook account. Keith Yoerg still had access to it, and granted admin rights to Joel and Vice-President Frank Miuccio. Joel also created a Reddit account, Twitter account, and regained access to the Gmail and Youtube accounts. Richard Garcia commented that he had previously made a Twitter account, ReactionResSo, and suggest Joel look into it.

Tabs for a Cause was a source of charitable donations suggested by Joel in the previous meeting. However, upon further investigation of the group, Joel discovered that they use Charity Navigator to determine the worth of causes that Tabs for a Cause supports. Charity Navigator likes to receive budgets from charities, and tracks the portion of their proceeds which go towards actual charity work. The Society at this time doesn’t strictly hold to any budget, so this would be a new project for the Treasurer. During this discussion, Frank stated that as President, one of his goals will be for us to audit the past few years of the Society’s expenses, so that we can create a budget.

On October 22nd, Larry bought a drill for the Society, and left it at the MTA. It’s an 18v power drill, and it turns out that it didn’t come with any bits. It was commented that there should be bits somewhere at the MTA.

USC RPL held their Shockwave static fire at the MTA on October 21st. The rocket produced a maximum thrust of 3,772 lbf, and a total impulse of 45,698 lbf-s. This was apparently a record for a student-led project, and we congratulate USC on their success.

A week later, October 28th, the Hot Nozzle Society held an event at FAR. The group apparently does low-power and high-power rocket launches. Someone from the group, Jenna Foertsch, saw fit to contact us about their activities, though she seemed to suggest a familiarity with the RRS that none of the current council can explain. Regardless, Derek tells us that their activities went without a hitch.

In light of Jerry Irvine’s passing in Nashville last month, Dave has asked that someone try to learn more about him, and write an obituary in his honor. Unfortunately, no one currently active in the Society seems to have been close to him or know much about him. However, Derek suggested that we talk to a Davie, to learn more about Jerry. In the meantime, Larry stated that he would put something to together.

This past month the Society paid our insurance premium for the MTA. Unfortunately, the price went up over 10% from last year, coming out to about $4,600, compared to about $4,000 last year.

We’ve received word in the past month that Berkley’s Space Enterprise program has won the first Lander Challenge prize. We congratulate them on this milestone, and hope to hear more developments from their team.

In a surprising update, there is apparently going to be a Space Center built in Alameda, California. There’s apparently been an effort to move more of California’s Space industry from LA to northern California, and this Space Center is part of that effort. If it produces more hobbyist rocketry events the Society will be glad for it.

Current Business

The first bit of current business discussed were Constitutional amendments. Proposed by President Dave Nordling, these amendments would attempt to rectify some issues regarding conflicts of interest, duplicity in the Executive Council, and removal of members. During the discussion Keith Yoerg brought up that our pyro-op fees that we offer could potentially violate the conflict of interest amendment. Frank stated that these amendments have only been proposed, and that official language will be produced by the Executive Council at a later date.

At this month’s meeting, Joel brought up a proposal regarding cash dues payments. These have often been poorly tracked, leading to issues with resolving current membership status by the Treasurer. Joel suggested that any officer accepting cash dues payments must carry carbon copy receipt books with them, give a receipt to the member in question, and then record the transaction by depositing the dues amount received in the Society Paypal account. Larry brought up that this is an awful lot of work to take in dues, and he’s correct, but many in the Society have voiced their support of continuing to accept cash payments, and the current system clearly isn’t working.

Another suggestion Joel brought up was that the Society get VoiP lines for the Executive council. This would allow members and others outside the Society to always have a phone number for the current members of the Executive Council, and would make communicating with them easier. However, concerns were raised regarding the price of such service, the least expensive quote Joel could find being around $10/line/mo.

Next was the donation of William Claybaugh’s launch rail. He built this rail for his own purposes at the MTA, and earlier this year he officially decided to donate it to the Society. However, he wants liability and usage waivers. The Executive Council is still working on the issue.

Regarding our recently acquired 20′ office and 40′ crew cabin containers, Dave has sent out the message that he’d like furnishings for each. He’d like a desk, chair, and lamp for the office, and also bunkbeds for the crew cabin. In particular, he’d like the bunks to be large enough to fit a man of his own size, about 6’3″. These would be expensive, but Dimitri commented that they can be made fairly cheap, maybe even using 3 beds per bunk instead of 2, to maximize space utilization. Frank also would like the desk dimensions, to see if he can find anything.

An update on the LACMA has finally come in recently. The Executive Council has been negotiating with LACMA on several issues, but the most important was their requirement for a very large amount of insurance coverage, which the Society certainly can’t afford for a project expect to last into next Summer. However, LACMA’s legal department recently gave us a revised agreement, and it looks promising. Frank hopes we’re close to a deal regarding the project.

Tom Mueller’s company has recently been growing, apparently having recently reached 85 employees. Frank hopes that he’ll begin launch activities soon, and that he’ll be a patron of the RRS.

In the past month we’re pleased to announce that we’ve gained three new members. Anthony Padilla is a Compton College student, apparently looking to get into rocketry. Zach Lesan is in the US Space Force, and is apparently interested in turbo rocketry. The final member was accepted the same day as this meeting, Spencer De La Torre, a personal friend of Joel, and someone who is interested in model rocketry.

Finally, at this meeting we were blessed by the attendance of Kevin. He apparently heard about the Society from a Falcon-1 documentary, and looked us up, wishing to learn more about us. We hope he’ll return.

Future Business

The first future business item discussed was the 2024 Symposium. Scheduled Saturday, April 13th, 2024, Frank has already had the flyer updated for the event. Regarding attendees Mark Ventura has already confirmed, however, governmental organizations can’t declare their attendance yet or not, due to money not yet being allocated. Frank has already declared that our monthly meeting in April should be to focus on setting up for the Symposium of the following day, and so we won’t have a meeting on the 12th. Frank also suggested having two presentation rooms, scheduling such that schools can watch eachother’s presentations. Frank also has made himself another air rocket launcher, and hopes to have an air rocket event at the Symposium. Frank also commented that the Society will need more volunteers for this Symposium, and said even a couple hours can help greatly.

Next was the discussion of the 2024 dues and donations solicitation email. It’s been decided that the dues reminder will be sent out in December, with a late fee warning in January. In regards to donation goals, suggestions included Insurance, our public display license from the Fire Marshall, and our general priority list. It was also suggested that we should let people donate for specific causes, but Dimitri pointed out that tracking that information, and restricting ourselves, would be difficult.

A suggestion for a future MTA project was given by Joel in the past month, that being insulating and finishing the interior of the Dosa Building. He suggested that a one story frame could be built inside the building, insulation installed between the metal exterior and inner drywall, and that a space could be left open in the ceiling portion of the building as a roof/solar panel access, and for storage. It would ideally also prevent sand from getting in, but the bay door would make that practically impossible. Dimitri suggested that he would inspect and potentially service this door when next he is at the MTA.

In the past month UCLA held a static fire at Polaris. Dave contacted them during October, and discovered that UCLA is apparently obligated to use Polaris once a year. However, our contact with UCLA confirmed with us that they wish to hold another static fire with us at a later date.

A suggestion for the December meeting was made by Larry, who would like the Society to hold its long awaited pizza party. It was agreed that we have the requisite funds, and it was decided that Joel will send out an RSVP email in December. On that same note, Dimitri intimated that he would dance for us, if everyone paid their 2024 dues by the meeting.

The next Society meeting will be on December 8th, 2023, at the Compton/Woodley Airport location. Contact the Secretary for details.

MTA Firing Event, 2023-10-21

by Dave Nordling, RRS.ORG

USC RPL conducted a static fire of their latest solid motor design, Shockwave, a larger 8-inch more powerful design. Osvaldo Tarditti was the pyro-op in charge for the event. RRS members, Larry Hoffing and Dimitri Timohovich supported the event. The hot-fire was a successful demonstration of the most powerful solid motor built by students.

The USC RPL team has once again set a new record and the RRS is glad to support them.