Test facility P4.1 for altitude simulation in a VINCI engine
DLR Lampoldshausen had its share in the conception of European rockets since the 1960ies. Back then already, it was crucial to test the rocket engines under vacuum conditions. Test facility P4 with its two test positions was erected in the middle of the sixties for the ELDO program and ever since adapted to further requirements. Since 1998 this facility has served for development tests on the VINCI engine for the ARIANE-5 upper stage.
The VINCI rocket engine is tested in three different configurations, each of them representing different demands on the altitude position. The test conditions for the test facility P4.1 are:
• perpendicular position and a maximum test duration of 770 seconds
• ambient pressure during engine cooling phase < 200mbar
• ambient pressure during engine ignition < 60 mbar
• launch phase under real-life conditions
• stationary operation under vacuum conditions
• shutdown considering the maximum allowable nozzle charges
• simulating a ballistic phase with re-ignition under vacuum conditions
Test Facility P4.1 comprises the following elements:
• Kernel diffuser: The general structure of the kernel diffuser is defined on the basis of its typical combustion chamber pressure, the expansion ratio in case of a large nozzle configuration and heat load using test facility P4 dimensions.
• Exhaust system: The main parameters defined for the exhaust system were the transient pressure conditions prevailing during the engine starting and shutting phase. An appropriate balance between very high-performing ejectors with substantial vapour consumption and a large condenser with high cooling water needs had to be assessed.
• Adapter: Special kernel diffuser adapters were developed for other engine configurations with minor expansion ratios.
A cold gas test facility P6.2 was designed and erected to test components for altitude simulation systems and nozzle concepts.
Hot gas tests were performed at test facility P8. They particularly served to verify and layout models for use under heat load, to explore the diffusor starting and shutting phase and to define the design parameters for water-cooling. The Aerosphae-3D finite element program was applied for modelling.
Test platforms for lox alcohol rocket steam generator
An altitude simulation for rocket propulsions requires extensive quantities of hot steam to run the ejector pumps. This is why rocket steam generators are used for this purpose. They ensure that water is integrated and evaporated in the hot gas of a rocket steam chamber and enable a hot gas supply at lower costs.
Test facility P1.1 was built in 1994 to test prototypes of a 4,5kg/s rocket steam generator. Steam generators of this class can be tested in two operating states; either focussing on the combustion chamber with free exhaust gas beam or analysing the steam generator with installed water injection, steam production and ejector nozzle.
The steam generator building at test facility P4 was erected in 2000. It comprises four steam generators with a capacity of 55kg/s and one with 16kg/s. This steam feeds the ejector systems P4.1 und P4.2. The major steam generators are fuelled with fuel pumps. The small steam generator uses fuel tanks powered with nitrogen, as no fuel pumps are available; they also hold alcohol and liquid oxygen compartments.