Rig for testing Ariane 6 rocket opens in Germany

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The next phase of testing for Europe’s Ariane 6 launcher commenced last month when a new test stand was officially opened at a rocket engine test site in Germany.

The future European launcher, Ariane 6, is scheduled to lift off for the first time in 2020. The engines for the new launcher are undergoing testing at the DLR site in Lampoldshausen.

Test stand P5.2 will be used to test the entire cryogenic upper stage of Ariane 6, called the Upper Liquid Propulsion Module (ULPM) and was officially opened last month.

Construction of the €50 million (US$56 million) test stand started in autumn 2014. The stand is expected to be fully commissioned by the end of this year.

Hansjörg Dittus, DLR executive board member for space research and technology said, “This equipment allows DLR engineers to conduct both refuelling and defuelling, as well as complete stage tests, shortening development times and increasing the maturity of liquid-fuelled, chemical space propulsion systems.

“In order to ensure the continuity for the site after Ariane 6, the test stands will be upgraded to methane combustion.”

The upgrade of the test stand to handle methane combustion will cost around €30 million (US$33 million) and will allow it be used in the development and testing of the ESA’s Prometheus methane-fuelled engine.

Stefan Schlechtriem, director of the DLR Institute of Space Propulsion said, “The future of the European launcher family and the future of the DLR site are closely linked.

“We are building on 60 years of experience and our aim is clear – for our test stands to enable us, as a European research and testing centre, to implement all the necessary test campaigns for Ariane’s liquid-fuelled chemical propulsion systems, from development, through qualification, to acceptance tests.”

DLR’s Lampoldshausen site has several test stands and facilities for testing space propulsion systems. The site specializes in developing and testing new technologies for liquid-fuelled, chemical space propulsion systems.

Ongoing tests at the site include the testing of the main stage engine, Vulcain 2.1, and the upper-stage engine, Vinci, for Ariane 6 on the P5 and P4.1 test rigs for the ArianeGroup.

The Ariane 6 launcher is being funded by the ESA. The P5.2 test stand has been funded by the German government contributions to the ESA’s Ariane 6 development program.

 

To read Aerospace Testing International’s exclusive interview with Anja Frank, head of test facilities at DLR Lampoldshausen, where she details the challenges of running a large and complex rocket engine testing facility, go here. 

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 16 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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