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On 26 February 2019, the DLR German Aerospace Center in Lampoldshausen inaugurated a new test facility that simulates launch for the complete Ariane 6 upper stage.
The tests will include the Vinci engine firing, non-propulsive ballistic phases, tank pressurisation to increase performance, Vinci reignitions, exhaust nozzle manoeuvres, ending with passivation where all remaining internal energy is removed.
The test stand design is complex, having many fluid interfaces including cryogenic supplies, near-vacuum simulation, an acoustic noise reduction system, electrical interfaces and a control stand that complies with strict safety constraints.
There are three main areas. A steel structure will hold the Ariane 6 upper stage in front of a concrete safety wall – the ‘Test cell’. Under this is a concrete chute to funnel away hot exhaust gases from the Vinci engine, and behind the safety wall is a concrete building with five levels for gaseous panels, control, and auxiliary systems.
Fuel and other essentials for P5.2 operations come from existing infrastructure, which has enabled savings on construction costs.