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Vulcan

Vulcan-Centaur-441 (?) [ULA]

Vulcan-Centaur-561 (?) [ULA]

The Vulcan launch system, provisionally called NGLS (NGLS), is a replacement under development by ULA (United Launch Alliance) to replace both the Atlas-5 and Delta-4 families.

The vehicle familiy is built on the base vehicle core featuring 5 m diameter tankage inherited from the Delta-4 and a LOX / LNG fueled propulsion system using two Blue Origin built BE-4 engines. The basic stage can be enhanced by one to six GEM-63XL solid motors manufactured by Orbital ATK.

Initally Stage 1 will be expendable. In 2023 the Sensible, Modular, Autonomous Return Technology (SMART) initiative will be introduced, which allows ULA to reuse the most expensive portion of the first stage the booster main engines via mid-air capture. This allows a controlled recovery environment providing the confidence needed to re-fly the hardware.

Initially the Centaur upper stage of Atlas-5 will be used. In step two, the Centaur second stage will be replaced by the more powerful ACES in 2023. With the addition of ACES, Vulcan will achieve the current capability of the Delta-4 Heavy, which carries the largest payloads for our most critical customers. ACES will feature initially one to four RL10 engines, later to be downselected to BE-3U or XCOR engines.

Both 4 m and 5 m payload fairings will be available.

Likely the Atlas-5 launch pads, SLC-41 at Cape Canaveral AFB and SLC-3E at Vandenberg AFB, will be modified to launch the Vulcan-boosters.

Launch Vehicle Strap-On Stage 1 Stage 2
Vulcan (Centaur (SEC), 4 m fairing) 0 - 4 × GEM-63XL Stg 1 / 2 × BE-4 Centaur-5-SEC / RL10A-4-2 or RL10C-1
Vulcan (Centaur (DEC), 4 m fairing) 0 - 4 × GEM-63XL Stg 1 / 2 × BE-4 Centaur-5-DEC / 2 × RL10A-4-2
Vulcan (Centaur (SEC), 5 m fairing) 0 - 6 × GEM-63XL Stg 1 / 2 × BE-4 Centaur-5-SEC / RL10A-4-2 or RL10C-1
Vulcan (Centaur (DEC), 5 m fairing) 0 - 6 × GEM-63XL Stg 1 / 2 × BE-4 Centaur-5-DEC / 2 × RL10A-4-2
Vulcan (ACES, 5 m fairing) 0 - 6 × GEM-63XL Stg 1 / 2 × BE-4 ACES / TBD
Nr:  TNr: Vehicle:        Serial:   Fair: LS:         Date:         Payload

none


Launch sites:

CC  = Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Eastern Test Range, Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA USA
Va  = Vandenberg AFB, California, USA USA