MTA Work Event – January 20th, 2024

by Dave Nordling and Joel Cool-Panama, Secretary, RRS.ORG

The RRS held a work event at the Mojave Test Area (MTA) on Saturday, January 20th. The primary purpose of this meeting was to give Joel Feree, our contact with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), an in-person tour of the whole MTA, so that he could get an idea as to what we were working with for our collaboration with American Artist which will involve the recreation of the 1936 Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology (GALCIT) prototype liquid rocket engine. This was Joel Ferree’s first time at the MTA and he gained much insight into how we’ll be seeing the project through. Dimitri Timohovich also used his experience in the film industry to highlight some practical aspects for the production. Following this meeting, Dave Nordling, Dimitri, and Joel Ferree came up with a timeline for the project. Dave Nordling, serving as the project leader, is working hard to get hardware ready for an initial firing by our membership at the MTA. Once the system is proven to work reliably and safely, the static firing of this replica will be the centerpiece of the filming to take place at the MTA.

On the same day, four student representatives of Loyola Marymount University’s rocketry team came to meet with Dave Nordling. They intend to build a custom hybrid motor, which they plan to static fire at the MTA. Dave gave them some points on their motor and feed system designs, which they can certainly appreciate, given that this is their first experimental rocket project. Rushd Julfiker and Dave will continue to advise the team on their propellant loading system and ignition system, and they may well use a firing box of Dimitri’s design.

While there, Dave and Dimitri worked on moving some of the society assets from the Dosa Building to the new Bldg. 14 office container.  This was done partly to declutter the working space, in order to make it into a meeting and workspace once more. If the lease does end next year, then Polaris will be removing many items of theirs which are also in the Dosa Building, including refrigerators, stove, and laminar flow bench. Polaris is required according to the terms of the lease to notify the RRS Executive Council of the movement of their assets.

According to Dimitri, a company called Tortuga Industries has reportedly bought 183 acres of land along Munsey Road. According to the rumors, they are looking to turn their parcel into a private duck hunting reserve, complete with a large pond.

Dimitri also reported that Crisalli is taking the initiative to fix the northern road running along the eastern side of the MTA property. Gordon has so far filled in the trench near the northeastern corner of the property, removed the concrete barricades, and installed a gate across the road. He has reportedly been using this northern route himself, dragging it several times in the process. He reports that the 4 miles of the northern road leading to the highway is now certainly passable, albeit the creek bed is still soft as of this writing. The RRS still recommends all visitors and users of the MTA continue to use the western (Munsey) road from Cantil until further improvements can be made.  The RRS MTA has access gates along the eastern border but they are rarely used.

Next monthly meeting will be February 9th.

Next work event at the MTA is planned for February 17th. This will depend on planned Polaris operations which could close the access easement road. Coordination with Polaris will be required.

January 2024 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

  • Constitutional amendment vote started December 22nd, ends February 9th
  • Amendment Procedure amendment passed unanimously
  • ITAR regulation rules controversial for RRS Regenerative Engine Competition
  • Dimitri officially Facilities Manager
  • 60’ Launch Rail pad poured, gimbal system to be delivered in March
    • Rushd project manager as of January 1st
  • Electric Grid pad poured, container delivered
  • Firetruck gator purchased and delivered to the MTA
  • Bottle Yard project proposed
  • Dosa Building project estimates found
  • LNG cylinder not yet worked on
    • Dave approves of workshop, wants a new pallet for the cylinder
  • 2024 Symposium has 5 confirmed exhibitors
  • TAM shutdown December 17th, Society assets locked inside
  • UCLA and USC still haven’t rescheduled, LMU may have conflicts with Polaris
  • LACMA project to get Society $9,000 in site use fees, expected to test in June or July
  • AIAA wants to make an RRS exhibit
    • Beta rocket?
    • Scalding Cat?
  • Dues due January 1st
    • Wolfram donated $2,500
    • George Garboden donated $500


  • Constitutional Amendments
  • RRS Regenerative Engine Competition
  • Facilities Manager
  • 60’ Launch Rail Project
  • Electric Grid Project
  • Firetruck Project
  • Bottle Yard Project
  • Dosa Building Insulation Project
  • LNG Cylinder Restoration Project
  • 2024 Symposium
  • Historical Documents
  • MTA Rocketry Events
  • LACMA GALCIT Project
  • Donations, Dues

The January 2024 meeting started off with a discussion of our constitutional amendments. The vote on the seven amendments sent out started on Friday, December 22nd. Joel later sent out a reminder on Wednesday, January 10th. When asked to give a status report on the vote, Election Chairman Xavier Marshall stated that as of this meeting, only seven members had voted on the amendments, a far cry from the 37 votes cast for the Council election last month.

During this meeting, Joel brought an additional eighth amendment to a vote. The procedure currently specified in the Constitution requires that all amendments be passed by vote at a meeting of the members, following thirty days notice. This additional amendment changes the procedure, to use the electronic voting that the Society initiated last month for the previous seven amendments. When brought to a vote, the amendment passed unanimously, with a handful of abstentions.

The next topic of discussion was the new RRS Regenerative Engine Competition. President-Emeritus Dave Nordling handed down his rules for the competition on Sunday, December 31st. Since then, Rushd Julfiker, Drew Cortopassi, and John Krell have been named as potential candidates for the three judge committee judging the competition, and they were approved by the Council at this meeting. During the discussion, it was brought up that some feedback had been given regarding some rules for the competition, namely those banning foreign students and foreign manufacture of parts, in compliance with ITAR. This is reportedly a problem for most universities, since they almost all have foreign born students, especially on their rocketry teams. Also, many of the universities are using foreign manufacturers, often Chinese, to reduce their expenses. Comments were made that we’re only judging their rockets, and Larry, Frank, and Xavier expressed their desire to drop these rules. Richard, aside form his comments on the ceramic coating discussion, also brought up that ITAR only regulates export, and not import. Logan Herrera also commented that he’s had problems with these same regulations with his own organization. Finally, Derek Honkawa commented that CSV isn’t a Microsoft technology, which one rule implies.

We then brought up that we had passed a by-law defining a Facilities Manager position. The Council elected Dimitri Timohovich to this position on Thursday, November 30th, and we certainly hope that he continues to graciously give his time to help the Society upgrade and manage the MTA. Larry also thanked him for lending us his COBRA system.

Discussion of the 60’ Launch Rail followed. Dimitri’s welder friend inspected the ham radio tower on Saturday, December 9th, which is to be the backbone of the rail, and will return later to reinforce it as necessary. On the same day Dimitri oversaw the pouring of the 12’ x 12’ x 12” reinforced pad for the rail. Rushd became manager of the project on January 1st, and Dimitri had to reschedule the delivery of the gimbal system to March, when the owner will be back in California.

Following that we discussed the Electrical Grid project. Dimitri is currently still storing the generator at his home, and he also oversaw the pouring of the 8’ x 10’ x 4” pad for the container. This came at an additional cost of about $550, but saved us at least $1,500 as compared to pouring this pad separate from the rail pad. The container for the generator was delivered on January 6th, again overseen by Dimitri. Dimitri commented yet again that this generator should produce more than enough power for the MTA, and should be even more powerful that Polaris’ generator.

Next came discussion of the firetruck project. It had been recommended that we insure the gator, which Dimitri assured us is possible to do. He also commented that registering the trailer is only $10 for 5 years, but that we don’t need to register the gator, since it’s considered a turf vehicle. About $30,000 has been spent so far, including some new locks, a lo-jack device ($50/year), and some other items. Dimitri also stated that he’s going to place a vinyl RRS logo on the hood of the gator, which Larry had previously suggested.

A proposed bottle yard project was then discussed. The Council previously defined some specifications, such as extending the concrete north of the Dosa Building, putting up fence with gates on the east and west sites, and locking them with combination locks, with a leanto roof above. However, Frank commented during the meeting that he came up with another potential solution. More information will follow.

We then briefly discussed the Dosa Building Insulation project. Three solutions were discussed, including spraying foam insulation on the inside, estimated to cost as much as $6,000. Another was painting the exterior with ceramic, and the third was installing ventilation fans near the ceiling of the building.

We discussed the LNG cylinder restoration. Zach Lesan took custody of the cylinder on December 9th, and as of yet hasn’t done any hard work on the cylinder. Dave has previously visited Zach’s workshop, and deemed it suitable for the task. Dave also asked for Zach to build a better pallet to hold the cylinder. Zach has however found a manual for the cylinder, and determines that it holds a seal, but has a small leak. He plans to get back to us about it in a couple of weeks, and as of yet hasn’t determined if the vacuum is still any good. Richard commented that the cylinder that FAR got needed a vacuum to be pulled, so it seems likely our cylinder will need so done as well.

Next we discussed the 2024 Symposium. As of now five or six exhibitors have confirmed their attendance, much to Frank’s relief, as last month only two had confirmed. Several others are still waiting for their annual budgets, before deciding if they can participate or not. Frank also stated that any people or organization interested in exhibiting or presenting should email him to make arrangements. As of now, Frank is planning for presenters to have 20 minutes to present, out of a designated 30 minute window. Frank also asked that anyone working in the aerospace industry post our flyer around their lunchrooms and elsewhere, to spread the word. He also intends to use Facebook, LinkedIn, Channel 4, EventBrite, and others to spread the word. Frank intends for us to have three tables at the Symposium, one for the RRS Regenerative Engine Competition, one for the MTA, and another for the RRS itself. We will also be having paper rockets again.

Joel then brought up an update for the Society’s Historical Documents. As of now Joel has no new progress to report, but he did want to comment on the current state of where they’re being stored, the Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum. In short, the museum was shutdown by the police on December 17th. Many Society assets, including a welder, air compressor, fittings, and other Society assets are still in the museum’s rocket lab. It is unknown when we’ll regain access to these assets, but Xavier assured us that it’ll be within a few months.

Next we discussed the MTA schedule. As of now UCLA and USC still haven’t given definite dates for their delayed static fires. LMU is looking to fire in February or March, although this may conflict with Polaris, which looks to launch in March as of now. LACMA and LMU are both scheduled to meet with Dave, Dimitri, and Rushd on January 20th, to tour the facility.

We then discussed the LACMA project. Dave so far has sent them three of five invoices, totalling nearly $42,000, which they paid for on December 21st. The project will run a total of $60,000, for which the Society will get $9,000 in MTA usage fees.

At this point, Frank interrupted the presentation, and brought up his appeal to a Washington D.C. museum, the AIAA. To his surprise, they were glad to collaborate with us, and would like to make an exhibit for the RRS. Richard at this time commented that Time Pickens and a Scott were not too far from his current location, and he’d talk to them about this subject as former RRS members. It was suggested that we could give them a beta rocket, and Bill Inman later commented that he could hand over his Scalding Cat as an exhibit piece.

The final item on the agenda, Dues and Donations, came next. We want to remind everyone that, per the Constitution, dues are due January 1st. Other than that, we want to extend our gratitude to Wolfram for his donation of $2,500, and to George Garboden for his donation of $500.

Following the end of the agenda, Frank brought up that a military installation in San Pedro could make for a good launch site for model rockets.

Then, Joel asked Wilbur, who showed up near the end of the meeting, what he thought of the TAM situation. He then suggested that Dave and Joel would be great to run the museum, and apparently the RRS taking the whole museum is a possibility that’s being considered.

Finally, Xavier wants to remind everyone that the voting on the amendments ends February 9th, 12 AM. Frank also commented that we should expect USC to present at February’s meeting.

The next Society meeting will be on February 9th, 2024, at the Compton/Woodley Airport location. Contact the Secretary for details.

Obituary: Gerald Andrew Irvine (1958 – 2023)

Osvaldo Tarditti, George James, George Dosa, and Jerry Irvine at the RRS symposium

Jerry Irvine passed away October 17, 2023 in Nashville, TN. Jerry was a long-time presence in the field of rocketry. He was a successful salesman for Composite Dynamics often appearing at Lucerne Dry Lake with a briefcase with a mess of rocket engines inside. Often associated with Larry Teebken, John Davis, Dave Griffith, and Gary Rosenfield, Jerry could get those composite motor orders in and sell them to rocket people whom you could say weren’t ordinary stiffs. People came from all over the USA who wanted to rummage through Jerry’s briefcase. He knew the psyche of rocket peeps and they knew his. It was related to me that Jerry was an amazing salesman, he seems to have been a natural wonder. Korey Kline, of K2Hybrids, reflected that Jerry had lots of crazy ideas, but helped the rocket community, and possessed an R&D heart.

It has been reported that in the early 70’s he was a member of the Claremont Rocket Society and the NAR Polaris Section headquartered in Claremont, California. He made the occasional appearance at Reaction Research Society’s 40 acre Mojave Test Area in Cantil, CA according to Dave Crisalli. It’s also been documented that Jerry reached out privately to those who needed money to pursue their dreams. May he rest in peace.

Larry Hoffing/Treasurer/RRS.ORG (Est ‘43)