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Vulcan

Vulcan-Centaur VC2S (Peregrine) [ULA]

Vulcan-Centaur VC4L (Peregrine) [ULA]

Vulcan-Centaur VC6L [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 two, four or six GEM-63XL solid motors manufactured by Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems (NGIS) (formerly Orbital ATK).

Initally Stage 1 will be expendable. Later the Sensible, Modular, Autonomous Return Technology (SMART) initiative might 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-1 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 the 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 was planned for 2021, but had been delayed to January 2024.

Launch Vehicle Strap-On Stage 1 Stage 2
Vulcan Centaur VC0 - Vulcan / 2 × BE-4 Centaur-5 / 2 × RL10C-1
Vulcan Centaur VC2 2 × GEM-63XL Vulcan / 2 × BE-4 Centaur-5 / 2 × RL10C-1
Vulcan Centaur VC4 4 × GEM-63XL Vulcan / 2 × BE-4 Centaur-5 / 2 × RL10C-1
Vulcan Centaur VC6 6 × GEM-63XL Vulcan / 2 × BE-4 Centaur-5 / 2 × RL10C-1
Vulcan Centaur-Upgrade 6 × GEM-63XL Vulcan / 2 × BE-4 Centaur-5+ / 2 × RL10C-X
Performance (kg) LEO LPEO SSO GTO GEO MolO IP
Vulcan Centaur VC0 10800 8500 7900 3300 - 2500 2100
Vulcan Centaur VC2 19000 15200 14400 8300 2500 6200 6200
Vulcan Centaur VC4 24600 20000 18500 11600 4800 8900 9100
Vulcan Centaur VC6 27200 23900 22300 14400 6300 10600 11300
Vulcan Centaur-Upgrade 27200 24900 15300 7000 12100

* = structural limit

Nr:  TNr: Vehicle:                      Serial:   Fair: LS:         Date:         Payload

 1   1    Vulcan Centaur VC2S           V001      S     CC SLC-41   08.01.2024    Peregrine 1 / Celestis 20


Planned:

 2   1    Vulcan Centaur VC4L           V002      L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.2024    Dream Chaser Cargo F1
 3   x    Vulcan Centaur VCxx           x         .     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.2024    NTS 3 (USSF 106) / SunRISE 1, ..., 6
 4   x    Vulcan Centaur VC0S           x         S     CC SLC-41   xx.4Q.2024    GPS-3 7 / D 1

 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VCxx           x               CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    DRACO Demo (USSF 25)
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC4L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    Dream Chaser Cargo F2
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC4L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    Dream Chaser Cargo F3
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC4L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    Dream Chaser Cargo F4
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC4L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    Dream Chaser Cargo F5
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC4L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    Dream Chaser Cargo F6
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC0S           x         S     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    GPS-3 8
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC0S           x         S     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    GPS-3 9
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VCxx           x               CC SLC-41   xx.xx.2024    MTC Epoch-1 1 (USSF 95)
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VCxx           x               CC SLC-41   xx.xx.2025    NG-OPIR-GEO 1 (USSF 57)
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6x           x               CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    Silentbarker 4, 5, 6 (NROL 118)
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC2L           x               CC SLC-41   xx.xx.2024    WGS 11
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VCxx           x               CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    NROL 56
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VCxx           x               CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    NROL 64
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VCxx           x               Va SLC-3E   xx.xx.202x    NROL 73
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VCxx           x               Va SLC-3E   xx.xx.202x    NROL 83
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VCxx           x               Va SLC-3E   xx.xx.202x    NROL 100
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VCxx           x               CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    NROL 109
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VCxx           x               CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    STP 5
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VCxx           x               Va SLC-3E   xx.xx.202x    T1TR-B
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VCxx           x               Va SLC-3E   xx.xx.202x    T1TR-D
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VCxx           x               Va SLC-3E   xx.xx.202x    T2TL-B
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VCxx           x               CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    USSF 16
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VCxx           x               CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    USSF 23
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VCxx           x               CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    USSF 43
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC4x           x               CC SLC-41   xx.xx.2024    USSF 87
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC4x           x               CC SLC-41   xx.xx.2024    USSF 112 
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VCxx           x               Va SLC-3E   xx.xx.202x    USSF 114 
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV1 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV2 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV3 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV4 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV5 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV6 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV7 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV8 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV9 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV10 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV11 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV12 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV13 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV14 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV15 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV16 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV17 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV18 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV19 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV20 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV21 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV22 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV23 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV24 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV25 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV26 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV27 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV28 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV29 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV30 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV31 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV32 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV33 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV34 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV35 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV36 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV37 1, ..., 45
 x   x    Vulcan Centaur VC6L           x         L     CC SLC-41   xx.xx.202x    KuiperSat LV38 1, ..., 45
 

Launch sites:

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

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