MTA Work Event, 2022-08-04

By Dave Nordling, President, Reaction Research Society


The society had a small work event at the Mojave Test Area on August 4th, 2022. The purpose was limited to starting the build of a new launch pad foundation for Bill Claybaugh’s upcoming large solid motor powered vehciles. The summer heat and tough soil limited progress but it was useful to gauge what the next steps should be. Launch is scheduled for mid-October.

Joe Dominguez (right) and Bill Claybaugh (left) examine the levelness of the form work.

Many thanks to Rushd Julfiker and Joe Dominguez for volunteering their support to Bill on that day. A new and larger launch pad is designed to support Bill’s larger adjustable launch rail system which will be useful to the larger sizes of future rocket projects at the RRS. New developments will be reported in the near future.


MTA Firing Event, 2022-07-31

by Dave Nordling, President, Reaction Research Society


The University of Michigan came to the Mojave Test Area for another static fire campaign starting Monday, July 25th and ending July 31st. Pyrotechnic operators, Jim Gross, Osvaldo Tarditti and myself supported this protracted campaign in the July heat. The weather was challenging during that week with few heat-related problems other than slow progress which is understandable given the conditions. New RRS member, Rushd Julfiker, and long time member, Jim Gross, assisted me in the cold flow and hot-fire testing. MASA’s academic adviser, Professor Mirko Gamba was also present at the MTA for the days of cold flow and hot-fire testing.

University of Michigan held a Test Readiness Review on Sunday, 7/17/2022, with RRS members present. Many good questions were raised but few corrections were needed. MASA proceeded with packing and departed campus for the MTA on Friday, 7/22/2022.

University of Michigan first day at the Mojave Test Area

The team arrived at the MTA on Monday night (7/25/2022) and began to unpack their gear and assemble the mobile test trailer. Leak checking went more smoothly due to design improvements. Problems with the igniter channel would prove to be a recurring concern.

Initial setup of the mobile trailer at first arrival.
Attaching frequently used tools by retractable tethers means never hunting for the right wrench again. Genius.
Hewlett-Packard film crew prepares to have interviews with the students.
Control trailer operations leading up to test.
A clean injector ready to be installed.
Fuel transfer operations before next test.
230-liter cryogenic liquid cylinders from Linde.

On Friday (7/29/22), gas bottles and cryogenic liquids were recieved from the supplier. Delays in receiving these consumables allowed sufficient time to verify systems were ready. MASA achieved significant progress towards hotfire after completing four valve timing coldflows and one abort test. Analysis of the data from our tests in preparation for hotfire tomorrow.

The RP-D2 engine sits on its thrust stand.
University of Michigan’s mobile test trailer beside the vertical test stand

Saturday (7/30/22) was the first attempt at hot-fire which was unsuccessful due to an igniter failure. The cause was traced back to an intermittent problem with the switch in the junction box. The prior igniter test demonstrated the igniter would fire in the cold flow conditions the day before. Comparing data sets, the team found that a simple verification of continuity in the voltage data stream during the countdown would safely identify a failed igniter firing circuit and allow a safe abort if it were to repeat.

RRS members Jim Gross and Rushd Julfiker examine the setup before the next test attempt.

In the last hour of the last day (Sunday, 7/31/22) of the campaign, MASA completed a successful 1 second hot-fire of the 2,000 lbf RP-D2 engine. The chamber and injector remained intact and the system safed itself properly.

Screenshot from the 1-second firing of RP-D2 as seen from the Garboden bunker

After examining the data, pressures were significantly off from the expected profile, but the engine passed the visual inspection After further consideration, the team opted not to proceed with a longer 4-second burn due to the uncertainty about our data values and pressure drops seen from hot-fire. MASA would conduct a more thorough examination of the data and hardware back at the university.

The MASA team began cleaning up the test site on Sunday night and continued throughout the night to prepare for the 1800 mile jouney home. University of Michigan was extremely happy with the result of their campaign and were grateful to our pyro-op’s and membership that supported every day with the MASA team.

The RRS was glad to provide our testing site, resources, experience, labor and insight to this successful testing campaign.

For inquiries about using the RRS Mojave Test Area, contact the RRS president.

president@rrs.org