The arc-heated wind tunnel (L3K) at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Institute of Aerodynamics and Flow Technology in Cologne is used to generate the extreme flow conditions that prevail directly around a spacecraft as it enters an atmosphere.
Wind tunnel for testing thermal shields on spacecraft
The L3K is a key facility in Europe for the testing of high-temperature structures due to its operational efficiency and the specific conditions it can create. High-temperature materials used as thermal shields for spacecraft and missiles can be characterised and qualified under realistic conditions using this arc-heated wind tunnel.
Moreover, L3K delivers valuable reference data to validate numerical simulation methods for high-enthalpy flows. L3K tests are used for the direct qualification of high-temperature materials and sensors for flight.