United Launch Alliance Completes Preliminary Design Review for Next-Generation Vulcan Centaur Rocket

Artist's conception of Vulcan rocket. (Credit; ULA)
Artist’s conception of Vulcan rocket. (Credit; ULA)

CENTENNIAL, Colo., March 24, 2016 (ULA PR) – United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully completed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) for the Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle with dual Blue Origin BE-4 engines. The PDR, a major milestone in development of the Vulcan launch vehicle, confirms that the design meets the requirements for the diverse set of missions it will support. The ULA team will build upon this milestone to refine and test key elements of the design while executing a busy manifest of 14 launches in 2016.

“The completion of the Vulcan Centaur rocket’s PDR is the first of several major and very exciting milestones in the launch vehicle’s development,” said Tory Bruno, ULA president and chief executive officer. “We have a strong path to get to a 2019 flight test of this new, highly-capable American launch vehicle.”

The Vulcan Centaur rocket design leverages the proven success of the Delta IV and Atlas V launch vehicles while introducing new technologies and innovative features which will ensure a reliable and affordable space launch service along with engines developed and manufactured in the United States. The Vulcan Centaur provides a path to replacement of the current fleet of Delta IV and Atlas V vehicles and will service a diverse range of markets including commercial, civil and national security space customers.

“Vulcan Centaur will revolutionize spaceflight and provide affordable, reliable access to space with an American main engine,” said Mark Peller, ULA’s program manager for major development.

In addition to the Blue Origin BE-4 engine, Aerojet Rocketdyne is developing the AR1 engine which could power the Vulcan Centaur. Such strategic partnerships for American main engines, Orbital ATK for the solid rocket boosters and RUAG Space for domestically-produced composite structures enable collaborative development of Vulcan maximizing the value of this new launch capability.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 100 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system.

For more information on ULA, visit the ULA website at www.ulalaunch.com. Join the conversation at www.facebook.com/ulalaunch, twitter.com/ulalaunch, and instagram.com/ulalaunch.

  • Steve Ksiazek

    When did it become Vulcan Centaur instead of just Vulcan ??

  • Hug Doug

    The “Centaur” part merely refers to its second stage. The current Atlas V is occasionally referred to as the Atlas-Centaur in the same way.

    This designation also serves to differentiate it from the planned upgrade to the “ACES” second stage by 2023.

  • Zed_WEASEL

    The Vulcan Centaur in the article doesn’t match with the picture Doug use as header. The picture is a Vulcan 564 with six SRB and the quad RL-10C3 ACES upper stage plus the RUAG 5-meter payload fairing. Performance is suppose to be about the same as the Delta IV Heavy.

  • Hug Doug
  • starbase

    Besides, the boosters will not sport the Atlas V design. Rather they will look like the ones used on Delta IV, with conical tops.

  • Aerospike

    How do you know if that ACES upper stage pictured has quad RL-10C3 engines, when as far as I know, the engines for the ACES have not been decided yet? I thought RL-10C3, BE-3 and an XCOR piston pump engine were all still in the run?