The main goals of a new test facility at Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf are precision measurements of the electron drift velocity and the Townsend coefficient of gases at atmospheric pressure in the strongest ever used homogenous electrical fields and the search for new RPC gas mixtures to substitute the climate harmful Freon. Picosecond UV laser pulses were focused into a sub-millimeter gas gap to initialize a defined tiny charge. These gaps are formed by electrodes of low-resistive ceramics or high-resistive float glass. The charge multiplication occurs in a strong homogeneous electric field of up to 100 kV/cm. Electron-ion pairs were generated in a cylindrical micro-volume by multi-photon ionization. The laser-pulse repetition rate ranges from 1 Hz to a few kHz. The RPC time resolution has been measured for different gases. First results of the Townsend coefficient at 100 kV/cm show a strong disagreement between the present measurement and Magboltz simulations for the typical timing RPC gas mixture C2F4H2/SF6/i-C4H10, while the measured electron drift velocities are in a good agreement with the model predictions.