Space Propulsion (DLR)

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The DLR Institute of Space Propulsion in Lampoldshausen has a large number of engine test stands and thus research equipment that is unique in Europe. The RWTH professorship gives the IST access to this infrastructure and also to the research results developed there.


Detailed information on DLR's research activities in Lampoldshausen can be found on the website of the Institute of Space Propulsion.

The Department of Space Propulsion is concerned with scientific fundamentals and new technologies for application in future rocket propulsion systems. The main technical focuses at the level of propulsion components are combustion chamber technology, fuel delivery, combustion, structural analysis and expansion nozzles and measurement technology. Fundamental experiments serve to generate a qualified database for the validation of advanced design tools. New technologies are demonstrated up to a TRL of 4-6 on test vehicles.

The interaction of all drive components determines the behaviour of the higher-level system, the engine. The evaluation of a rocket engine with the methods of system analysis is therefore essential. A key project for building competence at propulsion system level is the development of an operational engine demonstrator.

In addition to experimental investigations, numerical simulation methods for predicting component or propulsion behaviour for the operating conditions of high-pressure combustion chambers are being further developed and validated. The focus of the activities is on cryogenic stage drives and drives for position and orbit control. The experimental work is carried out on the test benches of the Institute of Space Propulsion at DLR in Lampoldshausen.

Experimental work:

  • Turbopumps
  • transient cryogenic flows
  • Ignition and engine transients
  • Fuel conditioning
  • Combustion stability
  • Heat transfer
  • Structural analysis, life cycle prediction
  • Nozzle expansion

Numerical simulations of stationary and transient phenomena:

  • reactive flows at supercritical pressure
  • Interaction of combustion and acoustics
  • Supersonic flows in expansion nozzles
  • Flows in turbines of turbopumps

Systems analysis:

  • Cycle analyses for chemical drives
  • Engine control