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A crane makeover to enable rocket science

March 28, 2018

The Lampoldshausen facilities of the German Aerospace Center or Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) develop technologies that are essential for European space travel.

One of many DLR locations, the Lampoldshausen site researches liquid chemical rocket propulsion systems such as the Ariane launcher. At the height simulation test bench, P4, rocket engines are tested under spacelike conditions. In preparation for the tests, several tons of sensitive components such as filters, flaps and pipes must be moved. In this procedure, a slewing crane is used on the roof of the almost 12-meter-high P4 building.

The crane lifts the components, some weighing more than five tons, from a truck bed, and moves them right to the building’s door. The crane system must be able to withstand extreme weather conditions such as snow, wind, rain and temperatures ranging from -5°C to +40°C on the roof of the P4.

Konecranes helped DLR modernize test bench P4’s outdated crane system from 1964. The reinforced crane now carries loads of up to 5 tons with a reach of 15 meters. With a reach of 10.3 meters, even the transport of up to 7.5 tons is possible. Its electrical and mechanical systems received a comprehensive update, intended to extend the crane system’s life while significantly reducing operating costs. Frequency-controlled drives have replaced the two DC motors on the slewing gear and trolley, making it possible to control the crane smoothly at optimum speed and to move the system’s parts safely and precisely. Also, with a new protective coating and a sliding roof to shield the control cabinets from the elements, the crane will be able to endure the weather conditions on the roof of the P4 over the long term. Non-slip sheets on the bars and staircases, as well as a new railing, also aim to boost safety.

 

Text: Anna Hiltunen
Photo: ESA-CNES-ARIANESPACE

3 FACTS

  1. European nations agreed on the Ariane program in 1973, enabling independent access to space. It has since become one of Europe’s most successful technology programs.
  2. Helping to create a reliable and competitive launch system, launch vehicles like the Ariane are an important element in European and German space strategy.
  3. Part of the Ariane program, the Ariane 5 is Europe’s most powerful rocket. In service since 1996, it has built a proven track record.