Encyclopedia Astronautica
Atlas Centaur LV-3C



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Atlas LV
Atlas LV-3C s/n AC-3 / Centaur D s/n 135D - 1964-06-30
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Atlas LV
Atlas LV-3C s/n AC-3 - 1964-06-30
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Atlas Centaur C
Credit: © Mark Wade
American orbital launch vehicle. Version with basic Centaur upper stage.

Payload: 1,700 kg (3,700 lb) to a GTO.

Stage Data - Atlas Centaur LV-3C

  • Stage 0. 1 x Atlas MA-3. Gross Mass: 3,174 kg (6,997 lb). Empty Mass: 3,174 kg (6,997 lb). Thrust (vac): 1,644.960 kN (369,802 lbf). Isp: 290 sec. Burn time: 120 sec. Isp(sl): 256 sec. Diameter: 4.90 m (16.00 ft). Span: 4.90 m (16.00 ft). Length: 0.0000 m ( ft). Propellants: Lox/Kerosene. No Engines: 2. Engine: LR-89-5. Status: In Production.
  • Stage 1. 1 x Atlas Centaur LV-3C. Gross Mass: 117,350 kg (258,710 lb). Empty Mass: 3,700 kg (8,100 lb). Thrust (vac): 363.218 kN (81,655 lbf). Isp: 309 sec. Burn time: 335 sec. Isp(sl): 215 sec. Diameter: 3.05 m (10.00 ft). Span: 4.90 m (16.00 ft). Length: 18.30 m (60.00 ft). Propellants: Lox/Kerosene. No Engines: 1. Engine: XLR-105-5. Status: Out of Production.
  • Stage 2. 1 x Centaur C. Gross Mass: 15,600 kg (34,300 lb). Empty Mass: 1,996 kg (4,400 lb). Thrust (vac): 133.448 kN (30,000 lbf). Isp: 425 sec. Burn time: 430 sec. Isp(sl): 0.0000 sec. Diameter: 3.05 m (10.00 ft). Span: 3.05 m (10.00 ft). Length: 9.14 m (29.98 ft). Propellants: Lox/LH2. No Engines: 2. Engine: RL-10A-1. Status: Out of Production.

Payload: 1,700 kg (3,700 lb).

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Engines
  • LR105-5 Rocketdyne Lox/Kerosene rocket engine. 386.4 kN. Atlas E, F. Atlas Sustainer. Gas generator, pump-fed. Separate turbopumps for each booster engine. Isp=316s. First flight 1960. More...
  • LR89-5 Rocketdyne Lox/Kerosene rocket engine. 822.5 kN. Atlas E, F. Designed for booster applications. Gas generator, pump-fed. Separate turbopumps for each booster engine. Isp=290s. First flight 1960. More...
  • LR89-7 Rocketdyne Lox/Kerosene rocket engine. 948 kN. Atlas space launchers. Out of production. Designed for booster applications. Gas generator, pump-fed. Shared turbopumps for booster engines. Evolved from MA-2 ICBM system. Isp=294s. First flight 1963. More...
  • RL-10A-1 Pratt and Whitney lox/lh2 rocket engine. 66.7 kN. Isp=425s. Version used on Atlas Centaur LV-3C, and proposed for various early Saturn launch vehicle designs. First flight 1961. More...
  • RL-10A-3 Pratt and Whitney lox/lh2 rocket engine. 65.6 kN. Study 1968. Isp=444s. First flight 1967. More...
  • XLR105-5 Rocketdyne Lox/Kerosene rocket engine. 363.2 kN. Atlas D. Atlas Sustainer. Gas generator, pump-fed. Shared turbopumps for booster engines. Isp=309s. First flight 1958. More...

See also
  • Atlas The Atlas rocket, originally developed as America's first ICBM, was the basis for most early American space exploration and was that country's most successful medium-lift commercial launch vehicle. It launched America's first astronaut into orbit; the first generations of spy satellites; the first lunar orbiters and landers; the first probes to Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn; and was America's most successful commercial launcher of communications satellites. Its innovative stage-and-a-half and 'balloon tank' design provided the best dry-mass fraction of any launch vehicle ever built. It was retired in 2004 after 576 launches in a 47-year career. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Convair American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Convair, USA. More...

Associated Stages
  • Atlas Centaur LV-3C Lox/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 117,350/3,700 kg. Thrust 363.22 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 309 seconds. More...
  • Atlas MA-3 Lox/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 3,174/3,174 kg. Thrust 1,644.96 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 290 seconds. More...
  • Centaur C Lox/LH2 propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 15,600/1,996 kg. Thrust 133.45 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 425 seconds. The first high-energy liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen propellant stage in history. Despite initial development problems, the Centaur is entering its sixth decade of development and production. More...

Atlas Centaur LV-3C Chronology


1958 October 1 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur LV-3C.
  • Centaur engine contract awarded. - . Nation: USA. Summary: Air Force awarded contract Pratt & Whitney for Centaur vehicle with hydrogen-burning chamber based on research of Lewis Research Center between 1953 and 1957. Centaur project later transferred to NASA..

1959 January 15 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur LV-3C.
  • Centaur first contract. - . Nation: USA. Summary: Centaur project (Atlas upper stage) contracted for $7 million in its first year.

1960 November 1 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur LV-3C.
  • Centaur tracking network test. - . Nation: USA. Under arrangements of the AACB (Aeronautics and Astronautics Coordinating Board), NASA will utilize existing NASA tracking stations for initial Centaur development vehicles and switch to the Advent network (which is to be planned, funded, and constructed by DOD) when Centaur is operational, perhaps as early as the fourth of 10 development launchings of Centaur.

1961 February 6 - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur LV-3C.
  • Liquid hydrogen tests. - . Nation: USA. Summary: NASA Aerobee-Hi successfully reached 96 miles above Wallops Station in test of behavior of liquid hydrogen in zero gravity for Lewis Research Center hydrogen propulsion development..

1961 February 7 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur LV-3C.
  • Centaur development milestones set. - . Nation: USA. Summary: Meeting of NASA and contractor personnel held at NASA headquarters to review Centaur development program..

1961 July 7 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur LV-3C.
  • McDonnell studies of the redesigned Mercury spacecraft. - . Nation: USA. Program: Gemini. Spacecraft: Gemini; Gemini Ejection; Gemini Parachute. Walter F. Burke of McDonnell summarized the company's studies of the redesigned Mercury spacecraft for Space Task Group's senior staff. McDonnell had considered three configurations: (1) the minimum-change capsule, modified only to improve accessibility and handling, with an adapter added to carry such items as extra batteries; (2) a reconfigured capsule with an ejection seat installed and most of the equipment exterior to the pressure vessel on highly accessible pallets; and (3) a two-man capsule, similar to the reconfigured capsule except for the modification required for two rather than one-man operation. The capsule would be brought down on two Mercury-type main parachutes, the ejection seat serving as a redundant system. In evaluating the trajectory of the two-man capsule, McDonnell used Atlas Centaur booster performance data.

1961 August 1 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur LV-3C.
  • Centaur operational contracts initiated. - . Nation: USA. Summary: NASA directed Marshall Space Flight Center to enter contract negotiations with contractors for procurement of five operational Atlas-Centaur vehicles. These launchings were planned to begin in second quarter of 1964..

1961 September 28 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur LV-3C.
  • Mariner moved to Atlas-Agena due to Centaur delay. - . Nation: USA. Program: Mariner. Class: Venus. Type: Venus probe. Spacecraft: Mariner 1-2. Summary: NASA announced that instrumented Venus probe to be launched next year would be launched by an Atlas-Agena B rather than a Centaur rocket as originally planned..

1961 November 19 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur LV-3C.
  • RL-10 flight rating complete. - . Nation: USA. NASA announced the completion of the preliminary flight rating test of the Nation's first liquid-hydrogen rocket engine. The engine, the RL-10, was designed and developed by Pratt and Whitney, of United Aircraft, for the Marshall Space Flight Center, and 20 captive firings were competed within 5 days under simulated space conditions, consistently producing 15,000 pounds of thrust. RL-10, previously known as XLR-115, was initiated in October 1958 and over 700 firings were conducted in its development.

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