Research and Test Infrastructure

Innovation Test Bench P3

Developing innovations and technologies

The P3 innovation test bench is a modern and flexible facility for the further development of tomorrow's space propulsion systems. From individual engine components, ignition processes and different propellant combinations to thrust chambers and technology demonstrators can be tested on the P3 test bench. In this way, technological developments in space flight can be efficiently advanced.

Video: Ready for Prometheus
A fuel combination of methane and liquid oxygen can play a promising role in the development of new liquid rocket fuels for space. The possibilities of methane range from admixture to the current liquid propellant engines of the Ariane launch vehicles to the complete replacement of liquid hydrogen. The DLR engineers in the Prometheus project are now working on developing LOX/methane technology for use in the European space program as quickly as possible. The goals are clearly defined: ArianeGroup and the DLR Institute of Space Propulsion entered into an alliance in 2016 to rapidly advance LOX/methane technology.

Areas of application

  • High-pressure test bench for testing full-scale thrust chambers with cryogenic propellants
  • Ignition possible in a vacuum at 200 millibars, continuously driven with gaseous nitrogen; then self-maintaining vacuum through gas jet principle


Mass flow

Liquid hydrogen

50 kilograms per second

Liquid oxygen

300 kilograms per second

Liquid methane / natural gas

300 kilograms per second

Number of test positions

  • one test postion P3.2

Qualified engines

Facts & Figures


Facts & Figures

1,200 kilonewtons

Firing axis



In June 1964, construction of the P3 test stand for testing ELDO engines began in the second expansion stage of the test site. Between 1964 and 1966, the P3 and P4 test facility complexes were built in Lampoldshausen as state-of-the-art altitude test facilities, which are still regularly maintained today.


Christopher Gusinde

Group Leader
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Institute of Space Propulsion
Test Facilities
Im Langen Grund, 74239 Hardthausen