Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Appendix 3: Space Vehicles
SSB-8
SSB-7
SSB-9
Copyright © 2003 Jos Heyman
 (HTML formatting by Andreas Parsch) 

Lockheed Martin (General Dynamics) SSB-8 Centaur

The Centaur upper stage, fuelled by liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, was initially developed by General Dynamics to place military communications satellites into orbit. When the programme was cancelled, the launcher was handed over for civilian use by NASA. In 1994 the rights to the Centaur upper stage were sold to Martin Marietta, which in 1995 merged with Lockheed to become Lockheed Martin. The Centaur upper stage was first used on 27 November 1963 after a failure on 8 May 1962. The stage was also known by its military designation SSB-8A although this designation was probably restricted to military launches.

Atlas uses

The Centaur upper stage was extensively used with the basic Atlas launch vehicle (refer SLV-3) in a range of versions.

Type Length Diameter Engine Thrust Used with #
Centaur A9.10 m3.05 m2 P&W RL-10A-1 133,453 NAtlas Centaur A1
Centaur B9.10 m3.05 m2 P&W RL-10A-3 133,453 NAtlas Centaur B1
Centaur C9.10 m3.05 m2 P&W RL-10A-3 133,453 NAtlas Centaur C3
Centaur D9.10 m3.05 m2 P&W RL-10A-3-1 or -3 131,227 NAtlas Centaur D24
Centaur D1A9.10 m3.05 m2 P&W RL-10A-3-3 131,227 NAtlas Centaur D1A6
Centaur D1AR9.10 m3.05 m2 P&W RL-10A-3-3 131,227 NAtlas Centaur D1AR33
Centaur I9.10 m3.05 m2 P&W RL-10A-3-3A 146,810 NAtlas I11
Centaur II10.06 m3.05 m2 P&W RL-10A-3-3A 146,810 NAtlas II13
Centaur IIA10.06 m3.05 m2 P&W RL-10A-4 185,019 NAtlas IIA, Atlas IIAS20*
Centaur IIIA10.06 m3.05 m1 P&W RL-10A-4-1 99,158 NAtlas IIIA1*
Centaur IIIB11.68 m3.05 m2 P&W RL-10A-4-2 198,317 NAtlas IIIB1*
Centaur IIIB DEC11.68 m3.05 m2 P&W RL-10A-4-2 198,317 NAtlas IIIB0*
Centaur IIIB SEC11.68 m3.05 m1 P&W RL-10A-4-2 99,158 NAtlas IIIB1*
*as at 31 December 2002

Photo: Author's collection
Centaur IIIA


Titan uses

The Centaur was also used with the basic Titan IIIE and IV launch vehicles, in two versions.

Type Length Diameter Engine Thrust Used with #
Centaur D1T9.60 m3.05 m2 P&W RL-10A-3-3 131,227 NTitan IIIE Centaur7
Centaur T9.00 m4.30 m2 P&W RL-10A-3A 146,810 NTitan 401A/B14

The Centaur D/E was a proposed version to be used with the Titan IIIBAS2 launch vehicle whilst the Centaur upper stage was also proposed for the Titan IIIL. Neither launch vehicle was developed beyond the initial design stages.

Photo: Author's collection
Centaur T


Space Shuttle use

The Centaur G was a version proposed for use with the Space Shuttle. It was to have 2 Pratt & Whitney RL-10-3-3A engines and was to be built in a basic version with a length of 6.00 m and a diameter of 4.30 m, and a stretched version with a length of 9.00 m. Development of this version was not proceeded with.


Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 3





Last Updated: 17 March 2003