December 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.

The presentation can be found here.

Executive Summary

  • Larry Hoffing won the election for Treasurer.
  • Amendment to be sent out on December 15th, with 45 voting days
  • Dimitri Timohovich appointed Facilities Manager, member of Executive Council
  • Hydraulic gimbal system located for 60’ rail project, $3,300 for all components
  • Surplus generator is 220v, 3-phase, 60kw, cost $5,500
  • Bill Claybaugh launch rail donation nearly officiated
  • Historical Documents cataloged, scanning started
  • Need volunteers for 2024 Symposium
    • Frank wants multiple RRS table
    • Joel wants to create a promotional video
    • Keith has rocketry footage
  • UCLA and USC pushed back their static fires, LMU scheduled for February/March, Princeton aiming for 2025 activities
  • Dosa Building insulation should be contracted out to a spray insulation company
  • LACMA GALCIT project agreement reached
    • $60k estimate, $9k MTA usage fees
  • $100k funding received for firetruck, electrical grid, and other unspecified projects
  • Zach Lesan to begin work on LNG horizontal cylinder restoration
  • Dave Nordling retiring as President


  • Election Results
  • Constitutional Amendments
  • Facilities Manager
  • 60’ Launch Rail
  • Military Surplus Generator
  • William Claybaugh Launch Rail
  • Historical Documents
  • 2024 Symposium
  • MTA Static Fires, Launches
  • Office and Crew Cabin Furnishings
  • Dosa Building Insulation Project
  • LACMA GALCIT Project
  • Jerry Irvine Obituary

The December 2023 monthly meeting started with the announcement of the Executive Council elections. Three of the elected offices on the Executive Council went unopposed.The Treasurer, however, had three contestants running.

PresidentFrank Miuccio
Vice-PresidentKeith Yoerg
SecretaryJoel Cool-Panama
TreasurerLarry Hoffing

For those curious, the official breakdown of the votes for Treasurer were as follows:

Larry Hoffing20
Xavier Marshall14
Michael Rouleau3

This election was notable in that 37 members cast a vote, an unusually large amount. Out of 47 administrative members, only 10 failed to cast a vote, or chose to. The Society is pleased to see such high levels of participation, and we hope this trend continues in the future.

During the discussion of the election results, Dave called for everyone to serve the Society by running for office on the Executive Council. It was also stated that Rushd Julfiker will remain as Director of Research.

The meeting then moved on to discussion of constitutional amendments currently being drafted by the Executive Council. Among proposed changes were some changes to membership, the addition of petition by the administrative and lifetime membership, requirement of dues payment before elections, definition of Vice-Presidential duties, Conflict of Interests, and restrictions on duplicity in the Executive Council. The Council currently plans to send the amendments out to the voting membership on December 15th, and to give them 45 days to vote on each of the amendments. 

Next on the agenda was the appointment of a Facilities Manager. Dimitri was chosen to fill this role, and will also have a seat on the Executive Council. There was some controversy in the Council on how to create this office, some not wanting the Council to exercise the power to arbitrarily create Executive Council officers, but the Council voted to create the position. A by-law will be published defining the position.

Following this was discussion of the 60’ launch rail project. Dimitri had located some hydraulics, which he thinks would be better than those found and donated by Waldo. It’s a hydraulic gimbal system, which can both raise the tower, and pivot it. The owner is selling the unit, controller, and gas powered pump as a unit, but is also selling a larger diesel powered pump. The cost for all of it would be $3,300. Dimitri commented that the throw of the system is around 10’ to 12’. He also commented that the arm only goes as high as 75 degrees above horizontal, but that it also lowers below 0 degrees from horizontal, and he doesn’t know for sure the full range of movement of the system. Dimitri commented that the pivoting ability would allow us to change which direction the launch rail is pointing, which can prove useful later.

The welder will be present at the MTA on the 9th, and Dimitri also stated that he has a car scale, which he can use to weigh the ham radio tower. National Concrete will likewise be present, and will pour both the launch rail pad, 12’ x 12’ x 1’ rebar reinforced, as well as the smaller pad for the electrical generator. Dimitri estimated that the Society will save about $2k by having the pads poured simultaneously. The rail pad will use 1” coarse thread anchors, and will have 12 of them. Dimitri also requested that the forms be left for the launch rail pad, so that we can avoid the rebar while installing the anchors.

During the discussion of bolt patterns, Richard commented that he has a spreadsheet for bolt analysis. He again commented that he doesn’t believe that shear forces are applicable for bolts. Regardless, Dimitri will be leaving for the MTA tonight. Dave also commented that Rushd will be the project leader starting January 1st.

Regarding the generator, Dimitri gave some specifications on the system’s power output. He pointed out that the generator produces 60kw, which doubles the power of Polaris’ generator, and will easily power the MTA, including A/C units. Having cost $5,500, Dimitri is currently storing the generator at his home, since the seller had to move it from his own property. Being a 3 phase 220v system, it has surprisingly few hours on it, only 36. It was apparently a backup generator, and was only exercised on occasion while it was in service, which Dimitri has been doing himself every couple of weeks. The operation of the generator is apparently somewhat complicated, however. Dimitri will be writing an SOP for it. We also plan to store the generator within a container, so as to prevent its theft or being stripped.

Next we discussed Bill Claybaugh’s donation of his launch rail. Having initiated the process earlier this year in the summer, the Council has finally worked out the details on an MoU and liability waiver, and have signed it and mailed it to him for his own signature. He has apparently signed it just today, and mailed it back to us. The total effect of these agreements with him is that he can take the launcher with him to other sites to make use of, but that he is liable for its repair if damaged while in his care.

Historical documents was the next topic discussed. Joel provided details on what he’s done since the last meeting, having cataloged the books, and having started scanning documents. A question was then raised, as to whether or not we should keep the old paperwork after it’s been digitized. It was suggested that we could store the documents at the MTA, in the new office container.

We then discussed the 2024 Symposium. The day of the Symposium will be Saturday, April 13th, but we’ll be doing setup the night before, Friday the 12th. We’re looking for volunteers for both days, but especially for the day of. Frank commented that, in addition to our usual table, he also wants us to have tables for membership, the MTA, and for the Regenerative Engine Contest. We’ll also have a space for presentations, as per usual. Joel commented that he’d like footage to make a promotional video for the event, and Keith suggested that he could make a slideshow using photos from previous Symposiums. He does also have rocket footage to show at our tables. Frank likewise has footage from the 1993 Symposium. There’s also the old “Whitey” student film. Regarding an audience for our advertisements, it was suggested that we could tap into NAR, Tripoli, and other rocket and model rocket groups. It was suggested by Larry that we ought to think about notice of recording, but that public spaces should be fine. The suggested Symposium MTA discount was brought up, but not much was said about it.

Regarding scheduled MTA rocketry events, both UCLA and USC have unfortunately set off their static fires to indeterminate dates. LMU, however, is looking to perform launch activities during February or March of next year. Princeton, likewise, is looking to get into liquid rocketry, expecting to begin their campaign some time in 2025. Princeton has stated that their aim is to reach the Carmen line, very ambitious. For the time being Dave has them running their Monte Carlo simulations. Their rocket will have to fall within 10 nautical miles of the launch site, so their importance is vital. FAA requirements were also briefly discussed, particularly the call-in requirement for anything going higher than 18k’ or 20k’.

Next we discussed furnishings. The new 20’ office container and 40’ crew cabin need a desk, chair, lamp, filing cabinets, and large-and-tall bunk beds, respectively. Dimitri commented that he had already covered the windows with plywood, to prevent damage and vandalism. Dave also pointed out that the current generator isn’t sufficient to power both A/C units.

After that  we discussed the Dosa Building insulation project. It would seem that the best solution would simply be spray insulation. Frank also brought up his idea for painting the exterior of the building with ceramic paint, which will also lower temperatures by several degrees. Cork insulation was also briefly brought up as an alternative. Regarding the dimensions and insulation systems built for the building, it was recommended that somebody contact Niels, as he should know about the manufacture of the building, for which we could look for suitable insulation systems.

We then shifted the topic to the LACMA GALCIT project. We recapped the project, that it’s a project of American Artist, to recreate a 1936 static fire. We were fortunate enough to strike and sign an agreement with LACMA just this week, and it seems the timeline is to have the project complete by 2024. Unfortunately, the test is likely to occur in the Summer. The estimate for expenses is looking to be $60k, but the Society will benefit from about $9k in site use fees. Dave reiterated that two motors will be built, as one will be used for display at a later date.

Review of the Jerry Irvine obituary followed. Larry wrote his obituary, and it is ready to be published, but Larry is choosing to wait on Korey Kline, who said he wanted to write something himself. During the discussion, our prior President Osvaldo Tarditti mentioned that Jerry was actually the one who brought him to the RRS, in 1978. Osvaldo apparently was into model rockets, but wanted to see “the real stuff,” to which Jerry was happy to oblige him.

Next we discussed project funding. Dave was glad to announce that he had spoken to one of our donors this week, and the donor had written us a $100k check. We now have funding for both the electrical grid project, and for the firetruck. These items combined however are only about $65k in total, leaving $35k for other projects. Some additional projects discussed were an ATF magazine, though we don’t have anyone at this time who can check it weekly as legally required. There was however discussion of building a bottle yard, for Lindi to deliver too. Not having a proper storage place has been a big concern for them, though they have faithfully delivered to the MTA for many years.

We then discussed the ongoing events with Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum. A judge has ruled that Robin Petgrave must stop his operations at the museum. As a result, Society assets that have been held in the museum will need to be moved, to ensure that we don’t lose access to them for any amount of time.

Discussion of the LNG cylinder restoration came next. Zach Lesan has volunteered to restore the horizontal LNG cylinder. He plans to pick it up from the MTA tomorrow, during the work event. Dave went to his home in Manhattan Beach, and believes it will be sufficient for the project. Zach has an impressive resume, so we’re sure he’ll do good work.

As the meeting came to a close, some additional subjects were brought up. Steve Majdal brought us some wire, and Dimitri brought up that he might donate a 40’ container of his, for an MTA workshop. Michael Rouleau priced out a 1010, and Bill Inman stated that he had finished his repairs on the Solar Cat, and would like to launch out of the MTA tomorrow.

USC having maybe taken some of our electrical equipment, probably mixed in with their own, brought Dimitri to suggest that we paint it fluorescent pink, so that it stands out better in the future. Next it was suggested that Richard be brought in on the RRS Regenerative Cooling Contest.

Finally, we’d like to thank Dave Nordling, for his two years as President of the RRS. During his tenure the Society strove for, and achieved, great goals, personally leading many projects to improve and revitalize the MTA, and for that we owe him. Dave has indicated that he needs time away from the Society, having spent so much effort in it in only 24 months, but we hope he’ll enthusiastically return soon.

The next Society meeting will be on January 12th, 2024, at the Compton/Woodley Airport location. Contact the Secretary for details.

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