ULA Completes PDR on Dual-Engine Centaur for Commercial Crew Program

CENTENNIAL, Colo., June 12, 2013 (ULA PR) —
United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully completed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) and initial round of development testing for the Dual Engine Centaur in support of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Under Independent Research and Development (IRAD) funding, ULA is re-establishing the Dual Engine Centaur (DEC) configuration for performance and human space flight safety. Atlas V is capable of flying both a single and dual engine on the Centaur second stage, but most satellite missions require only a single engine due to the powerful capability of the Atlas V booster to loft the payload into orbit.


Major Upgrades Planned for Aging Centaur Upper Stage

The LCROSS satellite and the Centaur upper stage on a crash course for the moon. In the future, the Centaur could deliver tons of cargo to the lunar surface. (Credit: NASA)

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

The Centaur upper stage, which has been propelling American satellites through space since 1965, is getting a major upgrade that would allow the venerable one-shot booster to perform in a series of new roles.

In the coming decades, upgraded Centaurs will make launching  of spacecraft on Atlas V and Delta IV rockets much less expensive. They could also function as reusable space tugs, orbital fuel depots, and landing vehicles that would transport tons of cargo to and from the Moon, Mars and asteroids.


Space Access 12: Masten Space Systems

Xombie on the pad.(Credit: Draper Lab)

Dave Masten
Founder and CTO, Masten Aerospace
Mojave, California


  • Xaero capable of reaching 100,000 feet
  • Next generation beyond Xoie, which won the Lunar Lander Challenge
  • Under flight testing now
  • 88 tether flights
  • 2 successful free flights
  • Installing an aeroshell on Xaero changed flight characteristics
  • “By the time we figured out what was going on, we were 88 tether flights in.”
  • Building a second Xaero within the next few months to do high altitude flights up to 100,000
  • Masten has too many customers for the first Xaero, which will be used for low-altitude flights