MTA firing report, 2022-03-12

by Dave Nordling, President, Reaction Research Society


The Reaction Research Society held a members only event on March 12th. I was the pyrotechnic operator in charge, We used the event to make some facility changes, launch a set of model rockets to prepare for school events coming soon and conduct the second and last destructive burst test of a fired steam vessel. All were successful.

The society has needed more storage space at the MTA and was glad to receive a donated 40-foot container. We are very grateful to member, Dimitri Timohovich, for making that possible including transporting to the pads in the north yard. We hope to add shelving and reorganize our gear soon.

New storage space at the MTA.

The vertical test stand is in need of some refurbishment. After USC’s last failed solid motor test, the anchor bolts will have to be removed and the concrete patched as necessary. A new mounting design is being discussed and USC is willing to provide labor and support to the cleanup activities. Measurements of the entire floor plan were made to make a drawing for easier planning of future tests. The vertical test stand has stood for many years and will be ready for many more.

Our pad is well worn and in need of some work.

We took some time to examine the area where our new restroom facility will be placed in the south of the MTA. Seeing the placement of the septic system is an important next step in expanding our facility.

Future site of the RRS MTA restroom facility.

Bill Inman ran his second burst test of a retired 20-lb propane container. He rebuilt the “mailbox” sheet metal shroud and found another propane fired burner. Mechanical cables to remotely pull the vent valve open or pull away the heat source were tested and ready. With 4 gallons of water filling the closed vessel laying on its side and the burner lit and running, the vessel was run to failure at 1260 psig. This was higher than the prior 1135 psig burst of the first tank on 1.15.2022 and both well above the proof pressure of 900 psig for these commercial product vessels for cold liquid storage.

Bill Inman prepares his second test article for burst testing.
Similar setup as before with the relief valve for safety
Bill cleans up and insoects his equipment after a successful burst.

A video camera recorded the pressure gauge as the heating took place. Total run time was roughly the same at 45 minutes. Bill safely monitored and recorded the time and rising pressure readings with binoculars from the safety of our blockhouse. Footage was reviewed to confirm the last reading before burst (1260 psig). A second video camera was positioned north of the test article and recorded some of fragments flying away. Collateral damage was less on this second test and it will be the last one of its kind. With two data points, a conservative limit can be set and Bill’s steam rocket tests will use an ample factor of safety.

PVC launch rails for wire launching model rockets.

After the area was clear and the major fragments gathered, we brought out one of our PVC rail launchers which will be used in forthcoming launch events. We had a few model rockets to fly and the winds were light making recovery less of a hike.

The Estes Generic E2X takes flight with a solid recovery.
Keith Yoerg celebrates another flight and recovery of the Charlie Horse.

It was nice to have an easy and fun time at the MTA. We barbecued a few burgers and ate well that sunny day with cool temperaturess. We plan to be back again for more maintenance operations and another school launch event.

For questiions, contact the RRS secretary or president,


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