MTA Launch Event, 2022-06-04

By Dave Nordling, President, Reaction Research Society

The RRS held a launch event on Saturday, June 4, 2022, at our Mojave Test Area (MTA). I was the pyro-op in charge. Winds were brisk and steady, but still under the 25 MPH limit. We had two operations that day.

The first was the UCLA Senior Capstone project led by Professor Brett Lopez. This quarterly class has seniors build and balance their own rockets from scratch. They load F-sized motors and fly them at the end of the quarter to prove their team’s skills in flight.

The UCLA students gather their materials in the propellant loading area.

Secondly, RRS member Wolfram Blume returned to the MTA with the latest rebuild of the Gas Guzzler. He had concerns about flying in the strong winds that day so he limited his work to testing the staging system with both halves on the 1515 rail. Bill Inman and new member, Dale, offered their assistamce in positioning the rocket on the rail.

Dale, Wolfram and Bill Inman

Bill Inman and Dale assisted Wolfram in trying out the new staging system in the Gas Guzzler. The old system (e.g., last December) was a hassle and required assembling the upper stage (main body tube, cowling, nose cone) on the rail with a screw driver and a step ladder. The mating of the booster thrust rods into the upper stage was very difficult. So after December, he redesigned and rebuilt the thrust rods and the staging system. The result was a successful design. The new system is fairly easy to stage on the rail, does not require any assembly (with the ever-present danger of losing small screws) and does not require a ladder. Wolfram feels good about this system for future launches.

The Gas Guzzler during its fit check on 6/4/2022

Wolfram doesn’t think he’ll make it back to the MTA until the summer heat is over. His goals for the summer both involve the fuel system:

  • The flameholder is the ramjet needs to ignite every time.
  • The ramjet slows down very quickly after stage separation (25m/sec/sec = 60mph/sec), so the ramjet must ignite within less than 2 seconds after stage separation; less than 1 second would be better.

Using the 270-volt, 3-phase electricity at Wolfram’s laboratory, he can run a 20hp air blower which can mimic the air flow at stage separation with a K-motor in the booster (175 m/sec). The blower can be run higher to mimic stage-separation flight speeds of about 250 m/sec which is just below the separation speed of an L-motor in the booster (280-300 m/sec).

Wolfram’s workshop is good for the tuning and testing the flameholder. but running the main burner would require returning to the MTA. The main fuel flow could be tuned using water. After the summer’s heat is over, he will return to the MTA and finish testing the parachute system. The first powered flight of the ramjet with a short – 5 second burn is under discussion.

This short event was also a good time to clean up the site a bit. The society has big plans for the summer including some much anticipated facility upgrades.

The next monthly meeting will be June 10th (2nd Friday of each month) by teleconference. Contact the RRS secretary for details.

March 2022 virtual meeting

by Keith Yoerg, Secretary, Reaction Research Society

The society held its monthly meeting for March on Friday, the 11th, at 7:30pm by teleconference.

The following items were on the agenda.

  • Chris Lancaster’s presentation on rocket bikes and drag racing history
  • Review of recent MTA events, USC RPL static fire
  • Upcoming events at the MTA
    • Delivery of new 40-foot storage container by Dimitri Timohovich
    • Site maintenance and upgrades
    • Wolframe Blume’s next flight of the Gas Guzzler
    • Bill Inman’s testing for steam rocketry
    • Low power launches
  • Upcoming university event requests and inquiries
    • USC RPL static fire and flight
    • University of Michigan, MASA in May 2022
    • UC Irvine and Cal Poly Pomona
    • UCLA
  • Student classes and launches
    • LAPD CSP – STRIVE event, 4/2/2022
    • YMCA classes, launch on 5/1/2022(?)
  • RRS post office box, renewal and other options

We spent the majority of our time on the subject of early rocketry in drag racing and rocket bikes. Chris Lancaster of Pennsylvania spent an extraordinary amount of time researching this subject and the specific rocket bike built by Henk Vink now on exhibit in Germany. A stand-alone article on this topic may be forthcoming.

Henk Vink, racing a rocket-powered motorcycle in Europe

The MTA firing report from 3/12/2022 covers the events from that day following the meeting. The anticipated events were discussed at the meeting.

The RRS will continue to keep our post office box in Los Angeles (Inglewood) 90009 for another year. The annual cost has been rising but it remains well used for correspondence.

Reaction Research Society; P.O. Box 90933; Los Angeles, CA, 90009

Our director of research, Richard Garcia, agreed to investigate LNG safety guidelines with regard to flaring of this volatile fuel in amateur rocketry applications. He will submit his findings to the council for internal peer review. The RRS will be creating a policy on this issue as some amateur liquid rocket projects intend to use natural gas (largely methane).

example of an industrial-scale flare stack

Further updates to this meeting report are forthcoming.

Next meeting will be April 8th. For those interested in attending, contact the RRS secretary.

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 to your email whitelist to make sure you are receiving the meeting invitation.