The DLR Institute of Space Propulsion has unique expertise in Europe in the development and operation of engine test facilities in Europe. The site in Lampoldshausen, for instance, has been testing and further developing engines for rockets and space systems since 1959. This research is part of the European space programme. With the Ariane launcher family, Europe is in a position to independently launch satellites into orbit for a wide variety of applications, thus securing competitive and independent access to space. This is a pre-requisite for the unrestricted use of satellite data.
Technical generation change for more efficiency in the test benches
Engine test stands are a fundamental prerequisite for developing propulsion technologies to the point where they are ready for use and for ensuring their quality. With the FLAME (Future LAMpoldshausen Exploitation) project, DLR is establishing the basis for the comprehensive modernization and digitization of engine test stands as part of an ESA program initiated by the German Space Agency at DLR. In this way, it is further expanding the strategic importance of the Lampoldshausen site for European space transportation. The focus is primarily on the increased standardization of interfaces, the use of artificial intelligence for test stand applications, and digitally adapted structures and processes. The prerequisites for this are unique at DLR Lampoldshausen.
Scientific expertise and unique test benches for the development of Ariane 6
The future European launcher Ariane 6 is scheduled to launch into space for the first time in 2023. To ensure that it can safely deliver all payloads to their orbits, the engines for the new launcher must be tested extensively beforehand. A key step was taken in 2019 to test the upper stage of the new launcher: The new P5.2 test stand was officially opened at DLR's Lampoldshausen site. The P5.2 test stand enables cryogenic upper stages to be tested under ground conditions in the future. The special feature of the test stand is that not only engines or their components - as on the other test stands at the site - but also the complete cryogenic upper stage, the so-called "Upper Liquid Propulsion Module" (ULPM), of the European Ariane 6 launcher can be tested. This new upper stage test stand ideally complements DLR's test and test stand facilities.
Bringing technologies to application
For engine development, the European Research and Technology Test Stand P8 has been a reliable platform for more than 25 years: every year, engineers test technology demonstrators there on around 80 test days. The work on liquid-chemical space propulsion systems covers the entire spectrum of Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) 1 to 9: from the functional principle to testing and qualification for use. This test bed is a unique infrastructure in Europe to prepare the technology for future launchers and a significant contribution of DLR to the development of the Ariane launcher family. With the new P8.3 test cell innovation cycles can be further shortened and the development costs for space propulsion systems significantly reduced.
Hydrogen - an energy carrier with tradition and potential for the future
Hydrogen has been an integral part of European space flight for more than four decades. Today, DLR Lampoldshausen is working on transferring this historically grown knowledge to the energy and mobility sectors. In doing so, DLR researchers are pushing the production of "green" hydrogen as well as the expansion of a research and development platform to test hydrogen technologies in practice, develop them further and bring them into application. Close cooperation with small and medium-sized enterprises as well as other scientific institutions enables rapid scaling and fast industrial implementation.