Testing the new Vinci engine

14 June 2005

Hot-firing tests of the new Vinci upper-stage engine are going ahead in the DLR test facility in Lampoldshausen, Germany. Test duration is slowly being increased step-by-step and the vital parameters of the engine are being recorded for further assessment and to validate the mathematical models.

The last test, carried out on 2 June, lasted about three seconds. To date the tests have shown very smooth ignition and establishment of the supersonic flame front. In the next few weeks further tests will be carried out to establish the full characteristics of the engine.

Technologies tested during the development of this new upper-stage engine are of importance for future progress in the area of space propulsion in Europe. Vinci, which is being developed in the framework of ESA’s Ariane-5 Plus Programme, is a re-ignitable cryogenic upper-stage engine. It uses a more efficient expander cycle that does not require a gas-generator to drive its two turbo-pumps. This new launcher engine will provide 18 tonnes of thrust in vacuum with a specific impulse of 465 sec.

The success of the tests to date is thanks to the combined effort of European industry, under Vinci prime contractor SNECMA, and to DLR’s excellent test-facilities. The new P4.1 test-stand, built to carry out hot-firing tests under near realistic space conditions, is unique in Europe for its size and allows continuous hot-firing tests of upper-stage engines of up to 20 tonnes of thrust.

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