Vulcan-Centaur VC6L [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 two, four or six GEM-63XL solid motors manufactured by Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems (NGIS) (formerly 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 was to be used with 4 m and 5 m fairings. In early 2018, it was decided to skip these versions.
The initial Vulcan versions will now feature a 5.4 meters diameter Centaur-5 stage, featuring two RL10C-X engines. After Centaur-5 an improved variant, Centaur-5+, will be introduced with an engine upgrade in a 2 engine configuration. A Centaur-5+Long will be implemented later, which will support 170klb of propellants and is not yet decided if it is to use two or four engines.
Finally, the Centaur second stage was originally 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. Later ACES was shelved and many features were incorporated in Centaur-5.
Vulcan Centaur-5 and Vulcan ACES will use 5 m payload fairings.
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 2021.
|Launch Vehicle||Strap-On||Stage 1||Stage 2|
|Vulcan Centaur VC0||-||Stg 1 / 2 × BE-4||Centaur-5 / 2 × RL10C-1|
|Vulcan Centaur VC2||2 × GEM-63XL||Stg 1 / 2 × BE-4||Centaur-5 / 2 × RL10C-1|
|Vulcan Centaur VC4||4 × GEM-63XL||Stg 1 / 2 × BE-4||Centaur-5 / 2 × RL10C-1|
|Vulcan Centaur VC6||6 × GEM-63XL||Stg 1 / 2 × BE-4||Centaur-5 / 2 × RL10C-1|
|Vulcan Centaur-Heavy||6 × GEM-63XL||Stg 1 / 2 × BE-4||Centaur-5+ / 2 × RL10C-X|
|Vulcan Centaur VC0||10600||8300||2900||-|
|Vulcan Centaur VC2||18500||16100||7600||2600|
|Vulcan Centaur VC4||23900||21000||10800||4800|
|Vulcan Centaur VC6||27200||25300||13600||6500|
* = structural limit-->
Nr: TNr: Vehicle: Serial: Fair: LS: Date: Payload
none Planned: 1 1 Vulcan Centaur VC2S x 5S CC SLC-41 xx.xx.2022 Peregrine 1 2 1 Vulcan Centaur VC4L x 5L CC SLC-41 xx.xx.2022 Dream Chaser Cargo F1 x x Vulcan Centaur VC4L x 5L CC SLC-41 xx.xx.202x Dream Chaser Cargo F2 x x Vulcan Centaur VC4L x 5L CC SLC-41 xx.xx.202x Dream Chaser Cargo F3 x x Vulcan Centaur VC4L x 5L CC SLC-41 xx.xx.202x Dream Chaser Cargo F4 x x Vulcan Centaur VC4L x 5L CC SLC-41 xx.xx.202x Dream Chaser Cargo F5 x x Vulcan Centaur VC4L x 5L CC SLC-41 xx.xx.202x Dream Chaser Cargo F6 x x Vulcan Centaur VCxx x 5 CC SLC-41 xx.xx.2023 USSF 87 x x Vulcan Centaur VCxx x 5 CC SLC-41 xx.xx.2023 USSF 106 / NTS 3 x x Vulcan Centaur VCxx x 5 CC SLC-41 xx.xx.2023 USSF 112 Launch sites: CC = Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Eastern Test Range, Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA Va = Vandenberg AFB, California, USA