Vulcan-Centaur-441 (?) [ULA]
Vulcan-Centaur-561 (?) [ULA]
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 3.05 m diameter Centaur-3 upper stage of Atlas-5 will be used. In step two, a 5.4 meters diameter Centaur-5 stage will be introduced, featuring likely 2 or more RL10 engines. Finally, the Centaur second stage will be replaced by the more powerful ACES in 2023, which shares the tooling with Centaur-5. 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 for Vulcan Centur-3 versions. Vulcan Centaur-5 and Vulcan ACES will use 5 m payload fairings.
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.
The maiden launch is planned for mid 2020.
|Launch Vehicle||Strap-On||Stage 1||Stage 2|
|Vulcan Centaur-3-SEC (4 m fairing)||0 - 4 × GEM-63XL||Stg 1 / 2 × BE-4||Centaur-SEC / RL10A-4-2 or RL10C-1|
|Vulcan Centaur-3-DEC (4 m fairing)||0 - 4 × GEM-63XL||Stg 1 / 2 × BE-4||Centaur-DEC / 2 × RL10A-4-2|
|Vulcan Centaur-3-SEC (5 m fairing)||0 - 6 × GEM-63XL||Stg 1 / 2 × BE-4||Centaur-SEC / RL10A-4-2 or RL10C-1|
|Vulcan Centaur-3-DEC (5 m fairing)||0 - 6 × GEM-63XL||Stg 1 / 2 × BE-4||Centaur-DEC / 2 × RL10A-4-2|
|Vulcan Centaur-5 (5 m fairing)||0 - 6 × GEM-63XL||Stg 1 / 2 × BE-4||Centaur-5 / ? × 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 Va = Vandenberg AFB, California, USA