Vulcan Centaur

Capability.
Partnership.
Value.

AMERICA'S ROCKET.
ONE SYSTEM FOR ALL MISSIONS.

  • Transformed to meet our customer's needs, our cost has dropped considerably to provide the best value choice.

  • Will provide higher performance and greater affordability while continuing to deliver our unmatched reliability and precision.

  • Flight-proven design, coupled with innovative technology, will transform the future of space launch.

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CONFIGURATIONS

Vulcan Centaur is available in four standard offering configurations including zero, two, four and six solid rocket booster (SRB) variants.

Vulcan Centaur Expanded View

PERFORMANCE

Optimal orbit for each customer, delivering industry best spacecraft orbital insertion accuracy.

 

GEO

0.0°

GTO

27.0°

LEO

28.7°

LEO

90.0°

LEO ISS

51.6°

0 Solids


 

2,900 kg
6,400 lbs

10,600 kg
23,400 lbs

8,300 kg
18,300 lbs

9,000 kg
19,800 lbs

2 Solids

2,600 kg
5,700 lbs

7,600 kg
16,800 lbs

18,500 kg
40,800 lbs

15,000 kg
33,100 lbs

16,100 kg
35,500 lbs

4 Solids

4,800 kg
10,600 lbs

10,800 kg
23,800 lbs

23,900 kg
52,700 lbs

19,500 kg
43,000 lbs

21,000 kg
46,300 lbs

6 Solids

6,500 kg
14,300 lb

13,600 kg
30,000 lbs

27,200 kg
60,000 lbs

23,200 kg
51,100 lbs

25,300 kg
55,800 lbs

Heavy

7,200 kg
15,900 lbs

14,400 kg
31,700 lbs

27,200 kg
60,000 lbs

24,000 kg
52,900 lbs

26,200 kg
57,800 lbs

GEO (Geosynchronous Orbit)=35,786 km Circular at 0 deg
GTO (Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit)=35,786 km x 185 km at 27.0 deg 
LEO (Low Earth Orbit-Reference) =200 km circular at 28.7 deg or 90 deg
LEO ISS (Low Earth Orbit-International Space Station) =407 km circular at 51.6 deg

 

Vulcan Centaur Flight Configuration Key


Example: Peregrine will fly on a VC2S, Dream Chaser will fly on a VC4L

PAYLOAD FAIRINGS

The payload fairing (PLF) provides a controlled, safe environment for spacecraft during ascent. All ULA PLFs are configured for off-pad payload encapsulation to enhance payload safety and security and minimize on-pad time.

The spacecraft is encapsulated in a 5.4-m- (17.7-ft-) diameter payload fairing (PLF), a sandwich composite structure made with a vented aluminum-honeycomb core and graphite-epoxy face sheets. The bisector (two-piece shell) PLF encapsulates the spacecraft. The payload attach fitting (PAF) is a similar sandwich composite structure creating the mating interface from spacecraft to second stage and payload fairing. The PLF separates using a debris-free horizontal and vertical separation system with spring packs and frangible joint assembly. The payload fairing is available in the 15.5-m (51-ft) standard and 21.3-m (70-ft) long configurations.

Multi-Manifest

Access to orbit remains a critical hurdle for many missions. However, ULA provides flexible and cost-effective multi-manifest solutions to overcome this barrier. With multi-manifest, two or more spacecraft are integrated on a launch vehicle using available performance and volume margin that would otherwise go unused — optimizing mass to orbit and enabling missions. Multi-Manifest on a Vulcan Centaur rocket provides a highly reliable and schedule certain launch solution for spacecraft ranging from CubeSats to small sats and beyond.

Dependent on the size of the spacecraft, multi-manifesting on a Vulcan Centaur can be done in several ways. The Aft Bulkhead Carrier (ABC) interfaces at the aft end of the Centaur upper stage and can carry up to 24U CubeSats weighing 80 kg each. The Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA Ring) is located between the upper stage and the primary payload and can accommodate 4-6 payload modules weighing up to 318 kg each. Finally, for small satellites exceeding the mass of an ESPA capability, the Multi-Payload Canister System is a load-bearing separating canister that can be utilized to enclose an aft small satellite while supporting a forward traditional large satellite.

Vulcan Centaur Multi Launch Diagram

PROPULSION

Main Engine

Booster propulsion is provided by a pair of BE-4 engines, manufactured by Blue Origin.

  • Nominal Thrust (sea level): 550,000 lbs

  • Fuel/Oxidizer: Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)/Liquid Oxygen (LO2)

Solid Rocket Boosters

Vulcan Centaur integrates up to six Northrop Grumman Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM) 63XL Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs). They are constructed out of a graphite-epoxy composite with the throttle profile designed into the propellant grain. GEM solids supported the Delta II and Delta IV rockets, and the GEM 63 variant will fly on ULA’s Atlas V rocket prior to the first Vulcan
Centaur launch.

  • Peak Vacuum Thrust: 459,600 lbs

  • Length: 71.8 ft

  • Nominal Burn Time: 90 seconds

Upper Stage

Vulcan Centaur will rely on two RL10C engines to power its second stage. Logging an impressive record of nearly 400 successful flights and nearly 700 firings in space, RL10 engines, manufactured by Aerojet Rocketdyne, harness the power of high-energy liquid hydrogen. The RL10 boasts a precision control system and restart capability to accurately place payloads into orbit.

  • Nominal Thrust: 24,000 lbs

  • Fuel/Oxidizer: Liquid Hydrogen/Liquid Oxygen

INFRASTRUCTURE UPDATES

ULA has been heavily investing in modifying our factory in Decatur, Alabama, and modernize our infrastructure at the launch facilities in Cape Canaveral, Florida, to support Vulcan Centaur Rockets. Space Launch Complex-41 (SLC-41) will be the first dual-use pad launching both Atlas V and Vulcan Centaur rocket families.

Decatur, Alabama Factory

  • New automated tooling solution for 5.4-meter-diameter Centaur V
  • Universal weld system and welding equipment upgrades
  • Robotic assembly line for tank fabrication
  • New tooling for integration, testing and checkout
  • Additional modernization for maximum efficiency and reliability

Cape Canaveral, Florida Launch Facilities

  • Upgraded Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) platforms, decks and crane to accommodate all Atlas and Vulcan Centaur configurations
  • Modifications to SLC-41 to accommodate Vulcan processing and launch:
    • Liquefied natural gas (LNG) ground systems
    • Increasing the fuel and oxidizer storage capacity
    • Increasing acoustic water suppression system capacity
  • Upgraded former solid rocket assembly facility, now known as Spaceflight Processing Operations Center (SPOC), to accommodate Vulcan Mobile Launch Platform (MLP) construction and storage
  • Renovated the rail system from SLC-41 to the SPOC to accommodate MLP transport and overlapping Vulcan Centaur and Atlas
    launch campaigns
  • Additional modernization for maximum efficiency and reliability

Atlas V

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Delta IV

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Delta II

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