Centaur (rocket stage)
Centaur is the name of a liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen ( LH2/LOX ) driven stage rocket, which was often used with the Atlas rocket (Atlas - Centaur ) and the Titan rocket (Titan - Centaur ). A planned use on the Space Shuttle was no longer performed after the Challenger disaster safety reasons ( because of the high explosive propellant of the Centaur ).
The Centaur has been developed since 1959 by a team headed by Krafft Ehricke and is the world's first rocket stage which used liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen as fuel. It is used since 1963. The Centaur stage has its own control system and has repeatedly ignited. It is driven by the RL -10 Pratt & Whitney. Originally, the Centaur stage was always driven by two RL -10 engines, but at the Atlas III and Atlas V rockets are mainly versions with only one engine ( Single Engine Centaur SEC) used in the capacity for geostationary transfer orbit optimized. For heavy payloads into low orbits continue the version with two engines ( dual-engine Centaur, DEC ) will be used. Currently, finds Centaur upper stage as the Atlas V rocket use.