Structural Qualification of Ariane 5 and 6 Launchers Structural Qualification of Ariane 5 and 6 Launchers | HBM

Safe Aerospace Missions After the Structural Qualification of the Ariane 5 and 6 Launchers

The Spanish National Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA), through the Ariane Program Testing Centre (CEPA), carries out the qualification tests on the large structures of the Ariane launchers, specifically those located at the top of the rocket, where the housings are located with the flight control equipment and the interface structure between the first and second launcher stage.



The Spanish National Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA), through the Ariane Program Testing Centre (CEPA), is performing the tests necessary for the structural qualification of the Ariane 5 and 6 launchers and as well as for many other elements that will be included in the European Space Agency (ESA) missions. This requires the most innovative sensor and data acquisition technology to meet the strict requirements in terms of measuring of the dynamic behaviour of the structures, and deadlines.


CEPA uses a combination of HBK strain gauges, the CANHEAD amplifier system, the MGCplus data acquisition system and catman Enterprise DAQ software to acquire information on the structural components of the launchers and to work with up to 7000 simultaneous channels.


The HBM system creates a reliable and versatile measurement chain that provides the maximum precision possible, while reducing cost and test time. Most importantly ensures the safety of the Ariane launcher and their payloads, thus supporting space projects such as JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer).


CEPA occupies a hangar linked to the airport runway of the Torrejón de Ardoz (Madrid) airbase, and its objective is to ascertain how the launcher and other aircraft structures behave before putting them into operation, and thus help to ensure safety and good performance during flight and operational life. For this reason, the most innovative technology is required.

The testing centre relies on HBK solutions for sensors and data acquisition. In the case of the Ariane 5 and 6 rocket test:

is used to meet the strictest project requirements, regarding both the test quality and deadlines, as there are flight and launch date commitments.

Meeting Deadlines

For example, it is envisaged that the space probe for the JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer) mission will be launched in 2022 by an Ariane 5 rocket whose structure has already passed the CEPA tests.

The different types of HBK strain gauges and data acquisition systems allow information on the loads to be obtained (by means of hydraulic actuators in order to obtain data for up to 700 tons), working with up to 7000 simultaneous channels.

Adaptation to the Needs of Each Test

The strain gauges, present in 80% of the channels, are ideal for measuring the deformation of the structures. The MGCplus and CANHEAD systems, which can be installed near the measuring points, help to reduce the wiring costs and provide an optimal alternative to acquiring and analysing data from a large number of channels.

Furthermore, this HBK solution can be adapted to the needs of each structural qualification testing process, and it meets the requirements of 'large' tests (with between 2000 and 2500 channels, as in the case of the Ariane 6) and 'small' tests (with between 500 and 1000 channels).

Lasting Relationship

As Ricardo Atienza, head of CEPA, pointed out:

The choice of HBM is a consequence of,  “A collaboration of more than 20 years during which its products have demonstrated better performance than those of the competition. The after sales service and speed of response received from the HBK team of professionals is excellent, and we therefore recommend their solutions to other partners and customers.”

No doubt, CEPA will continue to place its trust in the extensive portfolio of HBK test and measurement solutions when it carries out its next qualification tests on structures, loads and new equipment.

About INTA

The Spanish National Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA) is a public research organization (OPI) under the Ministry of Defence, specializing in technological research and development in the fields of aeronautics, space, hydrodynamics, security and defence.

It has a dual role: to carry out scientific research and system and prototype development activities and provide consultancy services to customers, universities and institutions. Over its more than 75 years of existence, the INTA laboratories and installations have trained many generations of scientists and engineers.