RRS attended the 1st annual FAR Liquid Rocket Symposium

by Dave Nordling, President, RRS.ORG


Representatives of the Reaction Research Society were invited to attend the 1st annual Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR) liquid propellant rocket symposium at the EAA Chapter 1 headquarters at the Flabob Airport in Riverside, California, on January 28, 2023. Dimitri Timohovich and I came to observe and participate in the all-day event including a range of topics related to safe design and operations with liquid rockets. There were hardware demonstrations giving attendees a direct appreciation for the importance of safety and careful planning with their system designs.

The intended audience was university rocket teams looking for best practices and expert advice. Mark Holthaus (president of FAR), Mark Ventura (RRS member and owner of Ventura Energy Systems) and Derek Honkawa (FAR member and private business owner) all gave excellent presentations covering igniters, propellant handling, part cleaning, and pressure system safety with a generous amount of examples of successful and unsuccessful projects at FAR.

FAR will soon make their presentation files available on their website for download. The RRS was glad to be there for this first of its kind event.

The RRS similarly has experts that have supported liquid rocket projects for decades at the Mojave Test Area. Contact the RRS president for requests and scheduling.

Also, the RRS will be holding our 80th anniversary symposium on April 15th at a venue location to be announced soon. This will be our first symposium since the pandemic and we look forward to having many speakers from industry, government, academia and the hobbyist community on topics related to liquid propellant rockets and many other subjects of interest to our public audience.

Sunrise at the Flabob Airport in Riverside, California.
For early cold mornings, coffee helps.
Pressurized water flow testing rig on display.
A full day of presentations on topics related to liquid rockets.

January 2023 meeting

by Joel Cool-Panama, Secretary, RRS.ORG


The Reaction Research Society held its monthly meeting at the front office of the Compton/Woodley Airport, 7:30 PM PST. on Friday, January 13, 2023.

Agenda topics of the meeting were:

  1. Welding helmets (Mohammed)
  2. Gas Guzzler progress (Wolfram)
  3. 1/14/2023 launch event
  4. * ROC high-power launches, terms of granting membership
  5. * American Artist – LACMA
  6. Work event 1/22-1/25/23
  7. launch event on 1/28/2023?
  8. 2023 symposium on April 8 (Frank)
  9. FAR liquid rocket symposium 1/28/23 at Flabob Airport (Dave)
  10. Restroom progress (Dimitri)
  11. Compton Comet work at MTA (Jamie)
  12. Launch rail designs (Jackson)
  13. Visit to Ventura Energy LLC, 1/12/23
  14. micrograin resources, alpha (Jim Gross)

Past Events

Another update which we were pleased to announce is that the President of the society has been formally admitted to the CALFIRE subcommittee on Fireworks, under which rocketry is governed, and which will be rewriting the existing regulations.

The Compton Comet project also had its first low pressure test earlier this month. There were many leaks, but the team is now nearing the point that they will need to carry on their testing at the Mojave Test Area (MTA).

A new member to the society, Abdullah Daya, also asked if there was any certificate available for those members who attended the society welding class in Vista. It was decided that the society would ask the instructors at a later time.

Current Events

The society is pleased to announce that member, Wolfram Blume, is currently seeking his pyro-op license. He currently only plans to obtain a Class 3 Rockets license, but the society currently seeks to expand its license holder count which will ease the planning of future MTA events requiring the presence of the same.

There was also a fairly lengthy discussion regarding society owned tools. Society member Mohammed Daya researched welding helmets on behalf of the society, giving a recommendation for a particular brand out of a few. There was also a recommendation for individuals to use prescription lenses, and helmets with small viewports should be used to prevent ones vision from wandering.

There was also discussion of a new requirement that individuals using society equipment sign waivers to reduce our liability, similar to the waiver required for MTA use.

Unfortunately, due to the recent weather in California, the launch event on January 14th for a project by American Artist has been cancelled. Dave still wishes to meet with him at another time, and hopefully schedule another date for his project at the MTA.

Another unfortunate situation has occurred, in that the FAA has reduced ROC’s height waiver by a substantial amount (7,000 feet). This will make the larger high-power launches impossible from their Lucerne Valley location. However, it was suggested that the society could reach out to ROC, and offer them use of the RRS MTA for their launch events. Keith Yoerg said he’d reach out to start a conversation.

In regards to the RRS MTA site improvements, the creation of more launch rails therefore was discussed. Materials for the construction of the same have been bought, and their design was briefly debated, with radio towers being mentioned as a frequent base. It was also mentioned that CAD software would be useful in our construction of any of the larger rail designs. A 60-foot launch rail for liquid-fuelled rockets is a top priority at the society this year.

An update on USPS protocols has been announced, that all mail addressed to a PO box must now also give the street address of the Post Office it is located at. Any such mail without an address will be returned to sender, so mail to the society should have the address written as such.

Reaction Research Society

8821 Aviation Blvd.

P.O. Box 90933

Los Angeles, CA, 90009-0933

An unexpected but minor blow to the society’s fundraising was delivered recently when Amazon announced that the AmazonSmile program will be discontinued in February this year. The money earned by the society therefrom was not a vast sum, but per our treasurer, Larry Hoffing, the loss of this small revenue stream means that pizza parties will be cancelled indefinitely. The society has yet to hold one of these events but the loss will still be felt.

Future Events

Starting on Sunday the 22nd, we are planning to have a multi-day work event at the MTA. This will do work on lighting and other electrical work on the site. Handicap rails and an access ramp also need to be installed soon. Dimitri will be present, and other volunteers are encouraged to participate as well.

On January 28th, there is another planned launch event for those wanting training in micrograin loading and launching. Jim Gross will be the pyro-op in charge.

Also on the same day, FAR will be holding a liquid rocket symposium at the Flabob Airport in Riverside. The RRS has been invited, but due to the limited gathering size only a couple individuals from the society will attend.

This April, Bill Claybaugh is planning to launch from the MTA. Likewise, the RRS symposium is planned to take place some time in April. Frank is currently in contact with the Gardena Community Center to see if we can hold the event there again this year on our 80th anniversary.

In regards to the symposium, there is currently no set budget, but it has been suggested that some of the society’s generous benefactors might be contacted to help cover costs.

Jim is currently in possession of zinc that might be used for sulfur micrograin. Some, contained in pales, are known to be good, but some received by mail are of unknown condition. It’s expected that the latter will be tested soon so as to determine its use.

Next meeting will be February 10th. Contact the secretary for details.


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