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Centaur C
Part of Centaur stage series
Credit: © Mark Wade
LOx/LH2 propellant rocket stage. Initial flight version of the Centaur series.

Status: Study 1960. Thrust: 133.45 kN (30,000 lbf). Gross mass: 15,600 kg (34,300 lb). Unfuelled mass: 1,996 kg (4,400 lb). Specific impulse: 425 s. Burn time: 430 s. Height: 9.14 m (29.98 ft). Diameter: 3.05 m (10.00 ft). Span: 3.05 m (10.00 ft).

Early Centaur Guidance System

The Centaur guidance system was all-inertial, consisting primarily of a four-gimbal all-attitude inertial platform and a general purpose serial digital computer with a magnetic drum memory. The airborne guidance program was written onto the drum memory from a punched paper tape along with a pre-flight calibration and alignment program for trimming and aligning the platform prior to launch.

For the geosynchronous equatorial orbit mission the Centaur guidance system performed the following functions:

During the Atlas booster phase, the vehicle pitch program was generated by the Atlas autopilot; however, the guidance system monitored the vehicle position and velocity and generated the booster staging discrete as a function of vehicle acceleration. For the Atlas sustainer stage the guidance system generated vehicle steering signals, which were used to orient the thrust vector so as to reduce the position and velocity dispersions generated during the open-loop booster stage. The sustainer engine cutoff command was also given by the guidance system.

After separation of the Centaur stage from the Atlas booster, the Centaur guidance system controlled the vehicle during each of the succeeding three phases of powered flight necessary to place the vehicle in its final orbit. The guidance system provided steering and cutoff signals to the Centaur autopilot during the powered phases of flight and also provided an attitude reference to the autopilot prior to the second and third firings of Centaur in order that the vehicle assumed the proper attitude prior to thrust initiation. The following was a typical 3 start flight sequence:

Structural considerations of the configuration limited the product of the angle of attack and dynamic pressure, q, to approximately 67 kN/m^2 with 2-sigma winds at Cape Canaveral. The maximum permissible longitudinal and lateral acceleration factors were 7.0 g and 1.0 g, respectively.

Cost $ : 20.300 million. No Engines: 2.

Family: Space Tugs. Country: USA. Engines: RL-10A-1. Launch Vehicles: Atlas Centaur LV-3C, Juno V-B, Saturn A-1, Saturn C-2, Saturn B-1, Saturn A-2, Saturn C-1, Saturn I Blk2, Atlas Centaur, Saturn I. Propellants: Lox/LH2. Bibliography: 4394.

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