Encyclopedia Astronautica
Centaur I

Lox/LH2 propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 15,600/1,700 kg. Thrust 146.80 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 444 seconds.

Cost $ : 20.300 million. No Engines: 2.

Status: Out of production.
Gross mass: 15,600 kg (34,300 lb).
Unfuelled mass: 1,700 kg (3,700 lb).
Height: 9.15 m (30.01 ft).
Diameter: 3.05 m (10.00 ft).
Span: 3.05 m (10.00 ft).
Thrust: 146.80 kN (33,002 lbf).
Specific impulse: 444 s.
Burn time: 402 s.
Number: 18 .

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Associated Countries
Associated Engines
  • RL-10A-3A Pratt and Whitney lox/lh2 rocket engine. 73.4 kN. Isp=444s. Used on Centaur stage atop Atlas G, Atlas I, Atlas II, Titan 4. First flight 1984. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Atlas I American orbital launch vehicle. The Atlas I launch vehicle was derived from the Atlas G, and included the same basic vehicle components (Atlas booster and Centaur upper stage). Significant improvements in the guidance and control system were made with an emphasis on replacing analog flight control components with digital units interconnected with a digital data bus. More...

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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