February 2022 virtual meeting

by Keith Yoerg (RRS Secretary)

The latest meeting of the Reaction Research Society took place via video call on Friday, February 11th and had eighteen attendees.

Screenshot of discussion during the monthly meeting


The meeting kicked off with a discussion of the static fire that was to be conducted the following day at the MTA. Osvaldo Tarditti will be the Pyro Op in charge. The wear and tear of testing has become evident on the concrete pad near the vertical test stand, and a question was raised about the best option for future tests by USC at the MTA. Some RRS members raised concerns about any additional drilling into the concrete, and have expressed a desire to eliminate the tripping hazard of permanent bolts. One option discussed and preferred by some members was launching in a vertical orientation. Other members prefer the horizontal orientation that USC has been using.

All members agreed that safety is the #1 priority. John Krell recalled having a friend die in the 60s from fragments of a metal casing that exploded. USC uses a carbon fiber casing, which produces much less dangerous fragments in the event something goes wrong. Fiberglass was mentioned as another alternative safer than metal.


We received another reminder to pay dues for 2022 from the Treasurer:

  • $40/year for full members was due on January 1st
  • $20/year for student members
  • Pay via PO Box or “Donate” button to the right


Joel Cool-Panama and Manuel Marquez presented on the progress of the “Compton Comet.” This RRS project utilizes a 1,500 lbf LOX/ethanol engine. The rocket is under construction at Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum at the Compton/Woodley Airport.

Slide from the presentation on the Compton Comet

Both presenters (Joe & Manuel) are RRS members and students at CSU Dominguez Hills. The hopes are to complete a static fire of the liquid rocket engine at the MTA sometime this year.


The discussion then moved to the progress on site upgrades and maintenance: namely the new bathroom and the repair of the Dosa Building window that was broken during Bill Inman’s destructive propane bottle test. On the bathroom front, there was little progress to report. Dimitri is taking the lead on bathroom construction but had been working on pyrotechnics for the Los Angeles Super Bowl, which understandably left little time for the bathroom construction. Progress is expected to pick back up in the upcoming weeks.

Osvaldo outlined the plans he had to repair the glass in the Dosa building. Because this is not the first time a window had to be replaced, Osvaldo designed an aluminum frame which locks into place and allows removal and replacement of the pane from inside the Dosa building. He intends to install a plexiglass panel in the place as a test. It would likely be more resistant to shattering, but may get cloudy or present other unforeseen issues. The only way to find out is to test it!


As mentioned earlier in this post, Bill Inman conducted an elevated temperature burst test of a 5-gallon (20-pound) propane container partially filled with water. A detailed report on that test from Bill can be found here.


Earlier in February, UCLA planned 3 liquid rocket engine tests in a single day – an ambitious goal. A summary of the day from the Pyro Op in charge, Dave Nordling, can be found here.


The executive council approved a new fee structure for use of the MTA, which are specific to non-RRS members. RRS members are still allowed to use the site with the usual requirements in place. The new fee structure is as follows:

  • $1,000 / day for schools
  • $1,500 / day for private companies

A minimum 14-day advance notice is required, and reservations are subject to availability of Pyro Ops qualified to oversee the testing taking place.


The MTA has a busy several months coming up. Frank updated the membership on the student classes, a new set of which will begin on the 23rd of February for the LAPD Strive class. Classes are scheduled once a week through March with the launch on April 2nd. Another set of classes with the YMCA will begin in early April, with a similar schedule and a launch date set for May 1st.

The University of Michigan has requested the MTA be reserved for a testing campaign on a LOX-RP1 liquid rocket engine from May 6th – 13th. USC has also expressed interest in conducting further testing in the near future.

Wolfram Blume updated the membership on his project the “Gas Guzzler.” He is finalizing the re-build of the parts damaged in the last flight and hopes to have the repairs complete in late-February, with a new launch shortly thereafter.


Chris Lancaster has been corresponding with a museum in Germany who has one of George Garboden’s rocket motors installed in a racecar. They are preparing a presentation for the March meeting about this machine of interest!

The next RRS monthly meeting will be held virtually on Friday, March 11th at 7:30 pm pacific time. Current members will receive an invite via e-mail the week of the meeting. Non-members (or members who have not received recent invites) can request an invitation by sending an email to:


Please check your spam folders and add secretary@rrs.org to your email whitelist to make sure you are receiving the meeting invitation.

January 2022 virtual meeting

Keith Yoerg, Secretary, Reaction Research Society

The society held its first monthly meeting of the new year by teleconference on Friday, January 14, 2022. We welcomed our newly elected officers including our new society president, Dave Nordling.

The meeting started by reminding everyone that membership dues for 2022 must be paid by January 1. Despite prior notices, the RRS decided that member dues for 2022 will remain at 2021 rates, $40 for associate and administrative members, $20 for student members, Payments can be made through Paypal using the “Donate” link button on the RRS.ORG website.

In addition to the treasurer’s report, the Amazon Smile account of the RRS received over $100 from quarterly purchases made by those who selected the RRS as their charitable organization.

An update was presented to the society. on the progress made with the new restroom facility at the Mojave Test Area.

The recent MTA launch event on 12-17-2021 was reviewed. The firing report is posted on the RRS website.

A testing event at the Mojave Test Area on Saturday, January 15th, is planned, The pyrotechnic operator in charge is Dave Nordling,

Member project updates were made at the meeting including the Compton Comet and the Scalded Cat.

The society is encouraging our members to seek their pyrotechnic operator licenses through CALFIRE. This will help the society have greater flexibility in our operations and give us a greater voice in amateur rocketry in our state,

UCLA is planning to hold another static fire of their liquid rocket at the MTA on 2/5/2022. Dave Nordling will be the pyrotechnic operator in charge.

The Compton Comet team will make a presentation to the society on their progress to date and remaining objectives at the next monthly meeting to be held February 11, 2022.

May 2021 Virtual Meeting

by Keith Yoerg (RRS Secretary)

The latest meeting of the Reaction Research Society took place this past Friday, May 14th and had 20 attendees – including a guest presenter and a project update from the Compton Comet team, which is composed of RRS members. We kicked off the meeting saying vitrual hello’s and catching up on personal updates.

Screenshot of discussion during the monthly meeting


The group kicked off society business by planning for upcoming MTA events later this month. Wolfram Blume is continuing progress on the Gas Guzzler, but windy forecasts continue to limit his ability to do further launch testing. Osvaldo and Wolfram planned to visit the MTA on May 16th to do a practice setup for a future static firing and some housekeeping tasks at the property.

Osvaldo also informed the membership about an active day planned for Saturday, May 29th with groups from UCLA planning to do another static firing of their hybrid motor and a liquid rocket launch to 33,000 ft. and a team of students firing model rockets. Several additional RRS members expressed interest in attending this event.


Scott Smith, the founder of Cobra Firing Systems was our guest presenter for this month, continuing our recent discussions on wireless launch controllers. Scott has been in the pyrotechnics industry for 10 years, and developed Cobra into a 25-person company with roughly 14,000 customers around the word. They have worked with Mythbusters, Disney, and the US Military to name a few.

Scott describing the underlying technologies behind the Cobra Wireless Firing Systems

RRS member questions for Scott focused on safety, in particular the risk of misfires and adding a physical shunt to the system. The data is encrypted, includes checksums, and is built around a US-based company Synapse, which has allowed the company to avoid any reports of accidental misfiring due to stray wireless signals. Cobra firing boxes are modular in nature and allow for what the company calls a “slat” – which allows for a cap to be used as a physical, mechanical shunt on the system.


RRS student members Manuel Marques, Aarington Mitchell, and Tre Willingham presented on the status of their project the “Compton Comet” which is being built at the Compton Airport under the guidance of RRS members Waldo Stakes and Dave Nordling.

The Compton Comet team presenting to the membership

The rocket is a 75% ethanol & liquid oxygen bi-propellant rocket with a regeneratively-cooled engine. The engine is a surplus XLR-11 which should produce roughly 1,500-lbf of thrust, and was originally used in a group of 4 to power the Bell-X1 (the first aircraft to break the sound barrier). The rocket is estimated to reach an altitude of 20,000 km and will use a 2-parachute dual deployment recovery system.


Members discussed the likelihood of in-person RRS events like the Symposium and meetings at the Gardena Community Center in 2021. It mentioned that the Symposium typically takes between 90 to 120 days to prepare, and it would be unlikely that the RRS would host one before spring 2022. There was a bit more of an optimistic outlook on the monthly meetings with a tentative goal set for a return to the Community Center in August (pending COVID restrictions).


Designs and plans for the permanent bathroom structure at the MTA have been the main focus of the ongoing, twice-monthly meetings of the RRS Executive Council. Frank updated the membership on the current status of the project, which has gone through several iterations. Currently, RRS member Wilbur is working with professional drafters to get precise designs on paper – including model numbers for things like toilets and water heaters. A precise, written design will help the society get a final product that matches expectations.

The current plan is to build 2 or 3, 20-foot containers with 2 bathrooms each or 1 bathroom and 1 shower. These will be transported to the MTA and installed on concrete plinths which drain to a concrete septic tank and leach field. Water will be supplied by a well and stored in a tank installed on top of the bathroom or a nearby storage container. The bathroom facility is planned to be located southeast of the Dosa building, alongside the existing storage containers.


The RRS Executive Council has reviewed the recommended changes to the By Laws provided by the 2020 constitutional committee. Following are the By Laws as agreed to by the 2021 RRS Executive Council:

2021 RRS By Laws


Richard Dierking raised a question regarding the new structure being built on the Polaris land adjacent to the RRS site, and whether it must be considered an occupied structure during launch testing at the RRS site. This prompted a lively debate about the nuances of the regulatory framework around rocket activities in the Mojave desert, with several members voicing their opinions.

Safety of all personnel must be the #1 priority during activities at the MTA & communication between between the RRS, FAR, and Polaris is the best way to ensure that. Concurrent operations at adjacent properties are avoided when possible, and the RRS maintains relationships with our neighbors so that the Pyrotechnic Operator in charge is in contact with & can ensure the safety of personnel at adjacent property when operations overlap.


The next RRS monthly meeting will be held virtually on Friday, June 11th at 7:30 pm pacific time. Current members will receive an invite via e-mail the week of the meeting. Non-members (or members who have not received recent invites) can request an invitation by sending an email to: