The vertical test section (VMK) at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Institute for Aerodynamics and Flow Technology in Cologne is a wind tunnel that enables the precise replication of aerothermodynamic loads on missiles travelling at speeds of up to Mach 3.2. This capability supports the study of aerothermal characteristics of spacecraft and missiles, as well as the flight qualification of their individual components.
Simulation of aerodynamic loads on missiles
The VMK is unique in Germany. The facility passes air through a valve controlling the resting pressure to a replaceable, rotationally symmetrical nozzle. From there, the air enters a measuring chamber – an overpressure-protected concrete tower – in which the model is attached to an adjustable angle-of-attack fixture or a swing-in device, depending on the specific application.
The vertical test section reproduces the realistic flight conditions needed to carry out aerothermal tests on missiles and to qualify many of their components for flight. In addition, as a ‘blow-down’ wind tunnel, the VMK is also able to investigate the interactions between a missle’s flow dynamics and the hot plume of its engine.