Encyclopedia Astronautica
Centaur G Prime

American space tug. Cancelled 1987. Upper stage / space tug - out of production. Centaur for Shuttle payload bay. Cancelled after Challenger disaster on safety grounds.

Unit Cost $: 22.000 million.

Gross mass: 19,501 kg (42,992 lb).
Unfuelled mass: 3,000 kg (6,600 lb).
Height: 8.87 m (29.10 ft).
Diameter: 4.33 m (14.20 ft).
Span: 4.33 m (14.20 ft).
Thrust: 146.80 kN (33,002 lbf).
Specific impulse: 444 s.

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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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