Encyclopedia Astronautica
Centaur V1


American space tug. One launch, , 2002. Upper stage / space tug - in production. Single engined Centaur for Atlas V, powered by one Pratt & Whitney RL10A-4-2 turbopump-fed engines burning liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen.

For typical, high-energy mission applications, Centaur would be configured with one RL10 engine. Guidance, tank pressurization, and propellant usage controls for both Atlas and Centaur phases were provided by the inertial navigation unit (INU) located on the Centaur forward equipment module.

Gross mass: 22,825 kg (50,320 lb).
Unfuelled mass: 2,026 kg (4,466 lb).
Height: 12.68 m (41.60 ft).
Diameter: 3.05 m (10.00 ft).
Span: 3.05 m (10.00 ft).
Thrust: 99.19 kN (22,300 lbf).
Specific impulse: 451 s.
Number: 1 .

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Associated Countries
Associated Engines
  • RL-10A-4-2 Pratt and Whitney lox/lh2 rocket engine. 99.1 kN. In production. Isp=451s. Used on Atlas IIIB launch vehicle. First flight 2002. Two engines; electro-mechanical thrust vector control actuators replaced earlier hydraulically actuated system. More...

See also
Associated Propellants
  • Lox/LH2 Liquid oxygen was the earliest, cheapest, safest, and eventually the preferred oxidiser for large space launchers. Its main drawback is that it is moderately cryogenic, and therefore not suitable for military uses where storage of the fuelled missile and quick launch are required. Liquid hydrogen was identified by all the leading rocket visionaries as the theoretically ideal rocket fuel. It had big drawbacks, however - it was highly cryogenic, and it had a very low density, making for large tanks. The United States mastered hydrogen technology for the highly classified Lockheed CL-400 Suntan reconnaissance aircraft in the mid-1950's. The technology was transferred to the Centaur rocket stage program, and by the mid-1960's the United States was flying the Centaur and Saturn upper stages using the fuel. It was adopted for the core of the space shuttle, and Centaur stages still fly today. More...

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