Rocket Science at BlowerDoor GmbH

Impressions of the test series on the membrane and its penetrations

Preparations for the test series in November 2020 at the EUZ

ArianeGroup is a world leader in access to space, working for its institutional and commercial customers and Europe’s strategic independence.  Around 9,000 employees in Germany and France develop innovative solutions in the field of launch systems for civil and military applications. Cutting edge technologies and the unique know-how of the ArianeGroup benefit customers in the space, defense, power generation and other industrial markets.

Ariane 6 consists of several elements: the solid boosters, the main stage and the upper stage. For the development of the upper stage in Bremen, a method was sought that could easily and reproducibly measure the volume flow rate across tube penetrations in a membrane - similar to the air-tightness measurement of the building envelope. The previous test procedures were usually carried out shortly before the launch of the rocket and were very time-consuming. The responsible engineers researched simpler but accurate measurement methods and found what they were looking for at BlowerDoor GmbH. Our BlowerDoor MiniFan measurement system, which is used in buildings and clean rooms, among other places, provides exactly the desired measurement ranges for this application: Pressure differences at the test object from 10 to 60 Pascal and airflow rates between 100 and 1500 m³/h. The target of the airtightness test is to determine the equivalent leakage of the test object. This is the starting point for further evaluations and decisions.

For the upcoming tests, we have developed a test chamber with which the real installation situation can be simulated on a smaller scale. Different mounting positions for the BlowerDoor MiniFan can be tested, and we take care of turbulence inside of the chamber. In a first step we checked the accuracy of the test method. For this purpose, three orifices, each with a round hole of a different size, were used and fixed one after the other on the test chamber. The area of each hole was then compared with the equivalent leakage area resulting from the airtightness test. To the delight of everyone involved, the accuracy of the test was much better than the required 10%. This laid the foundation for further and, for us, very special cooperation.

You will find out what happened next in our next newsletter.