Main Engine Cut Off

Atlas V Dual Engine Centaur Performance

In the wake of the announcement that Dream Chaser will fly to the ISS on an Atlas V 552, I’ve been curious how much performance the dual engine Centaur will add to the Atlas V configurations we know and love.

I bugged Tory Bruno about it and he delivered:

@WeHaveMECO @ethan829 An extra RL10 would add another 4000lbm (1800 kg) of payload mass

Pretty impressive performance improvement. Doubling the low thrust of a single RL10 reduces gravity losses quite a bit and adds almost two metric tons to lift capacity.

So far, there are only 3 payloads that will use the dual engine Centaur. Boeing’s Starliner will fly an N22 configuration of the Atlas V, which means no fairing, 2 solid boosters, and 2 RL10 engines. Dream Chaser and Bigelow’s B330 will fly a 552 configuration—a 5 meter fairing, 5 solid boosters, and 2 RL10 engines.

I’m hoping to see the dual engine Centaur added to ULA’s RocketBuilder so we can get an idea of how much more an extra RL10 costs. That may be our first real look at just how much that historic engine costs these days.