Encyclopedia Astronautica

Lox/LH2 propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 16,320/7,200 kg. Thrust 262.80 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 373 seconds.

Cost $ : 58.900 million. No Engines: 4.

Status: Retired 1996.
Gross mass: 16,320 kg (35,970 lb).
Unfuelled mass: 7,200 kg (15,800 lb).
Height: 11.89 m (39.00 ft).
Diameter: 3.05 m (10.00 ft).
Span: 3.66 m (12.00 ft).
Thrust: 262.80 kN (59,080 lbf).
Specific impulse: 373 s.
Specific impulse sea level: 316 s.
Burn time: 127 s.
Number: 12 .

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Associated Countries
Associated Engines
  • RL-10A-5 Pratt and Whitney lox/lh2 rocket engine. 64.7 kN. Isp=373s. Throttleable to 30% of thrust, sea level version of RL10. Four engines were built and were used on the DC-X and the upgraded DC-XA VTOVL SSTO launch vehicle demonstrators. First flight 1993. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • DC-X American VTOVL test vehicle. The DC-X was an experimental vehicle, 1/3 the size of a planned DC-Y vertical-takeoff/vertical-landing, single stage to orbit prototype. It was not designed as an operational vehicle capable of achieving orbital flight. Its purpose was to test the feasibility of both suborbital and orbital reusable launch vehicles using the VTOVL scheme. The DC-X flew in three test series. The first series ran from August 18 to September 30, 1993, before the initial project funding ran out in late October 1993. Additional funding was provided and a second series was conducted June 1994-July 1995. More...
  • DC-XA American VTOVL test vehicle. After a hard landing in the last flight of this series, the vehicle was rebuilt to the DC-XA configuration. The DC-XA flew from May 1996 until destroyed when it tipped over while landing on its fourth flight on 31 July 1996. 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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