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Eyes Turned Skyward : Spacecraft and Launch Vehicle Data

This page lists major spacecraft, space stations, and launch vehicles for the Eyes Turned Skyward timeline.

American Launch Vehicles

Delta Family

Most of the vehicles derived from the Thor IRBM fall into this category, beginning with the original Thor-Delta (a modified Thor-Able with an Altair third stage) in 1960. Details on the OTL vehicles (which are the same as the Eyes Turned Skywards vehicles up through the Delta 3000) can be found at Wikipedia or Astronautix. There were a very large number of them which differed only slightly, as a result of McDonnell Douglas' magnificently successful attempts to keep the crash project Delta in production despite attempts to replace it.

Delta 4000

Winner of the ELVRP I competition for a new small-medium class launch vehicle to replace Atlas, (existing) Delta, Titan IIIB, and other ICBM or IRBM-derived launch vehicles in the 1980s (Post 16). Derived from older Delta designs, it however differs significantly in two key respects. First, it has a larger diameter kerolox core, allowing it to carry more engines and more boosters than previous versions of the Delta. This allows a useful booster-less launch mode. Second, instead of the hypergolic or solid upper stages previously used, it uses a Centaur-D, significantly improving upper stage ISP and performance. Optionally, for high energy missions it can use a Star 48B solid third stage. Altogether, this greatly increases the maximum payload compared to previous Deltas. Built by McDonnell Douglas.

Delta 4000 Family Elements

Stage Name Description/Role Dry Mass Prop Mass Thrust (vac) ISp (vac) Thrust (sea level) ISp (sea level)
WBELT WideBody Extended Long Tank Thor, core first stage for the Delta 4000 13,293 kg 191,207 kg 3,162 kN 295 s 2,670 kN 264 s
Castor IV Standard steel-cased Delta solid rocket booster, developed for the Delta 3000 1,269 kg 9,265 kg 407 kN 261 s 355.7 kN 228 s
Centaur-D Upper stage adapted from Atlas-Centaur 2,631 kg 13,627 kg 146 kN 444 s N/A N/A
Star-48B Optional third stage for extremely demanding missions 126 kg 2,011 kg 66 kN 286 s N/A N/A
Delta 4000 Delta 4030 Delta 4060 Delta 4090 Delta 4120
Boosters None 3xCastor 4 6xCastor 4 9xCastor 4 12xCastor 4
185×185 km, 28.5 5,785 6,751 7,633 8,453 9,225
700×700 km, 98 3,210 3,850 4,433 4,971 5,476
185×20250 km, 28.5 2,026 2,530 2,987 3,410 3,806
185×35785 km, 28.5 1,562 2,012 2,418 2,795 3,148
C3 = 0, 185xinf km 1,553 1,825 2,079 2,320 2,550
C3 = 15, 185xinf km 1,158 1,365 1,559 1,744 1,921

Payloads beyond Earth orbit use optional Star 48B third stage (are therefore technically for the Delta 4005, etc.) C3 = 0 corresponds to TLI, C3 = 15 to TMI.

Delta 5000

An update of the Delta 4000 family, funded by the DoD under SDI as an “Intermediate Improvement Program” pending the deployment of X-30 or X-40 derived RLVs. Delta 5000 introduced the following changes:

  • Centaur-D upper stage replaced with Centaur-E, utilizing RL-10 derived engines.
  • Castor-IV SRBs replaced with all-new Thiokol Carbon-Composite Motors.

Delta 5000 Family Elements

Stage Name Description/Role Dry Mass Prop Mass Thrust (vac) ISp (vac) Thrust (sea level) ISp (sea level)
WBELT WideBody Extended Long Tank Thor, core first stage for the Delta 5000 13,293 kg 191,207 kg 3,162 kN 295 s 2,670 kN 264 s
CCM 46 Composite-wound-case solid rocket booster, new for the Delta 5000 2,280 kg 17,010 kg 608 kN 274 s 538 kN 242 s
Centaur-E Upper stage adapted from Saturn-Centaur 2,800 kg 21,100 kg 146 kN 454 s N/A N/A
Star-48B Optional third stage for extremely demanding missions 126 kg 2,011 kg 66 kN 286 s N/A N/A

Delta 5000 Performance Figures

Delta 5000 Delta 5010 Delta 5020 Delta 5030 Delta 5040 Delta 5050 Delta 5060
Boosters None 1xCCM 46 2xCCM 46 3xCCM 46 4xCCM 46 5xCCM 46 6xCCM 46
185×185 km, 28.5 7,418 8,109 8,761 9,382 9,975 10,544 11,093
700×700 km, 98 4,639 5,127 5,587 6,024 6,440 6,837 7,220
185×20250 km, 28.5 3,064 3,445 3,805 4,146 4,471 4,782 5,081
185×35785 km, 28.5 2,462 2,803 3,124 3,428 3,718 3,995 4,261
C3 = 0, 185xinf km 1,535 1,824 2,087 2,336 2,572 2,799 3,016
C3 = 15, 185xinf km 861 1,096 1,317 1,525 1,724 1,913 2,094
C3 = 0, w/Star 2,103 2,325 2,538 2,744 2,943 3,136 3,324
C3 = 15, w/Star 1,586 1,759 1,925 2,086 2,242 2,394 2,542

Saturn Family

One of the first launch vehicles to be designed as a launch vehicle from the ground up, with no IRBM or ICBM heritage. The Saturn project began in the late 1950s and culminated in the Saturn V used to launch the Moon missions, Skylab, and Spacelab.

Saturn 1

Pre-point of divergence, unaffected by changes in the timeline. Information can be found on Wikipedia and Astronautix.

Payload to LEO: 9,000 kg

Payload to TLI: 2,200 kg

Flight Record: 10 flights, 10 successes

Saturn 1B

Booster used for unmanned tests of the Lunar Module and Apollo Command and Service Module, as well as the manned Apollo 7 flight and the ASTP I and Skylab missions. Pre-point of divergence, design and capability unchanged by the timeline. One additional flight (Skylab 5). Information can be found at Wikipedia and Astron utix.

Payload to LEO (237×237 at 51.6 degrees): 16400 kg

Flight Record: 10 flights, 10 successes

Saturn V

Booster built for Apollo lunar flights. Two additional flights: Apollo 18 and the launch of the Spacelab mission. Information can be found at…the usual places.

Payload to TLI: 47,000 kg

Payload to LEO (2 stage): 118,000 kg (Note: capabilities of the Skylab and Spacelab stations mean no more than 80,000 kg is ever used on any LEO-only flight)

Flight Record: 15 launches, 15 successes

Saturn 1C

Contracted in 1971, the Saturn 1C was the key launch vehicle of the Nixon-era directive to focus on the space station aspects of NASA's original plans, dropping the expensive unknown technology of the “Space Shuttle” to focus on the key areas of long-term spaceflight, space operations, and space sciences. The Saturn 1C uses the same S-IVB stage built for Apollo's Saturn 1B and Saturn V, but with the new J2-S engine offering improved ISP and thrust. The Convair first stage of the Saturn-1B was replaced with a Boeing-built stage consisting of a 6.6m monolithic tank structure, with a single F1-A replacing the original 8 H-1 engines of the Saturn 1B. The development and testing of this stage was the key pacing item in the Saturn 1C's development. First unmanned flight took place in 1977, and the rocket began regular use launching Apollo and Aardvark supply craft, averaging four or five flights a year and rapidly becoming the most-flown NASA launch vehicle, a title from which it would only be dethroned by its successor, the Saturn Multibody family which were themselves developed from Saturn 1C.

Among the key capabilities of the Saturn 1C was the throttle added to the F-1 as part of F-1A development. While the F-1 (and F-1A) were originally designed with the aim of being used on the Saturn V where late-burn acceleration was controlled by shutting down engines, the F-1A had the ability to throttle to 75%, a capability that was critical in avoiding excessive acceleration later in the S-1E burn on Saturn 1C.

Vehicle info

Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 (optional)
Stage Name S-1E S-IVB Centaur-E
Builder Boeing McDonnell-Douglas General Dynamics
Diameter 6.6 m 6.6 m Variable
Dry Mass 24,000 kg 12,900 kg 2,800 kg
Fuel Mass 407,000 kg 104,300 kg 21,100 kg
Engine 1xF1-A 1xJ2-S 2xRL10A-3
Thrust (vac) 9189 kN 1138 kN 146 kN
ISp (vac) 310 436s 444s
Thrust (sl) 8003 kN N/A N/A
Isp (sl) 270 N/A N/A

Vehicle Performance

Orbits Payloads
185×185 km, 28.5 24,419 kg
430×430 km, 51.6 20,182 kg
C3=0, 185xinf km 9,979 kg
C3=15, 185xinf km 7,960 kg

(beyond Earth orbit missions use optional Centaur-E third stage; C3=0 corresponds to TLI, C3=15 to TMI)

Saturn Multibody

In addition to the small-medium vehicle covered by the ELVRP I competition, the Air Force needed a larger vehicle to fill the medium-large payload role that had previously been provided by the Titan IIIC, especially with the beginning of SDI and the large payloads expected from it. This requirement led to the ELVRP II competition, as in Post 21, a competition which was won by the Boeing/McDonnell Douglas Saturn Multibody, as described by Post 22. A derivative of the Saturn IC, Saturn Multibody features a number of improvements over that vehicle, most prominently the ability to add Titan-derived solid rocket boosters to increase the maximum payload, a stretched S-IVB (the S-IVC) on some variants to further improve performance, and last but not least the ability to gang up three Saturn Multibody core stages to launch a nearly Saturn V-sized payload into orbit.

The Saturn Multibody designation system is composed of a letter followed by two numbers. The letter says whether the vehicle is Medium or Heavy, that is whether it has one or three Saturn Multibody cores. The first number can have the values 0, 2, or 4, and describes the number of solid rocket boosters attached. The second number can have the values 2 or 3 and indicates whether the upper stage is the S-IVB (2) or the S-IVC (3). The S-IVC is only used on the M43 or H03 versions of the vehicle, since it is too heavy to offer much of a performance benefit to the smaller variants.

Vehicle contracted 1981 under ELVRP II, first flight planned for 1985/86.

Saturn Multibody Family Elements

Stage Name Description/Role Dry Mass Prop Mass Thrust (vac) ISp (vac) Thrust (sea level) ISp (sea level)
S-1F (SCC) Saturn Common Core, common first-stage core of all Multibody Vehicles 29,760 kg 504,742 kg 9,189 kN 310 s 8,003 kN 270 s
S-1G (SCB) Saturn Common Booster, common liquid booster for all Saturn Heavies 27,760 kg 504,742 kg 9,189 kN 310 s 8,003 kN 270 s
Titan UA1207 Titan 7-segment solid rocket motor used on Multibody 51,230 kg 268,070 kg 7,112 kN 272 s 6,406 kN 245 s
S-IVB Upper stage adapted from Saturn 1B and Saturn V 13,100 kg 104,326 kg 1,136 kN 436 s N/A N/A
S-IVC Upper stage derived from S-IVB for large Multibody LVs 28,820 kg 229,517 kg 2,272 kN 436 s N/A N/A
Centaur-E Optional third stage for extremely demanding missions 2,800 kg 21,100 kg 146 kN 444 s N/A N/A

Saturn Multibody Family Rockets

Saturn M02 Saturn M22 Saturn M42 Saturn M43 Saturn H02 Saturn H03
Boosters None 2xTitan UA1207 4xTitan UA1207 4xTitan UA1207 2xSCB 2xSCB
185×185 km, 28.5 27,707 43,890 53,965 65,961 63,603 77,765
430×430 km, 51.6 23,143 37,318 46,060 55,353 54,345 65,863
430×430 km, 28.5 24,359 39,087 48,190 58,240 56,876 69,131
185×35785 km, 28.5 7,858 15,808 20,526 19,783 24,986 25,987
C3 = 0, 185xinf km 11,163 10,423 14,198 10,761 17,707 15,845
C3 = 15, 185xinf km 8,955 6,620 9,753 4,368 12,628 8,663
Liftoff T/W 1.20 1.61 1.75 1.66 1.37 1.26
2nd Stage T/W 0.80 0.72 0.68 0.71 0.36 0.69
Cost (2011 millions) $150m $190m $230m $280m $350m $380m

For Saturn M02 only, Centaur-E third stage assumed for all beyond Earth orbit missions. C3 = 0 corresponds to TLI, C3 = 15 to TMI.

Launch Costs For Evolved Saturn/Apollo

See Post 1116 for discussion of unit costs for Apollo Block IV, AARDV, and Saturn Multibody launches.

Saturn Multibody IIP

In the 90s, with advances in technology and the Artemis program on the horizon, NASA and the DoD commissioned Boeing to produce an updated “Interim Improvement Program” Saturn Multibody. This included aluminum-lithium alloys into the S-IV stage's construction, and re-engined the stage with an improved version of the J-2 engine, based on work done for the related RL-10 family though the J-2A-2 still lagged behind the efficiency of its smaller cousin.

Vehicle contracted 1992 under Project Constellation, first flight in 1996.

Saturn Multibody IIP Family Elements

Stage Name Description/Role Dry Mass Prop Mass Thrust (vac) ISp (vac) Thrust (sea level) ISp (sea level)
S-1F-2 (SCC) Saturn Common Core, common first-stage core of all Multibody Vehicles 29,760 kg 504,742 kg 9,189 kN 310 s 8,003 kN 270 s
S-1G-2 (SCB) Saturn Common Booster, common liquid booster for all Saturn Heavies 27,760 kg 504,742 kg 9,189 kN 310 s 8,003 kN 270 s
Titan UA1207 Titan 7-segment solid rocket motor used on Multibody 51,230 kg 268,070 kg 7,112 kN 272 s 6,406 kN 245 s
S-IVB Upper stage adapted from Saturn 1B and Saturn V 11,760 kg 104,326 kg 1,161 kN 446 s N/A N/A
S-IVC Upper stage derived from S-IVB for large Multibody LVs 25,938 kg 229,517 kg 2,322 kN 446 s N/A N/A
Centaur-E Optional third stage for extremely demanding missions 2,800 kg 21,100 kg 146 kN 444 s N/A N/A

Saturn Multibody Family Rockets

Saturn M02 Saturn M22 Saturn M42 Saturn M43 Saturn H02 Saturn H03
Boosters None 2xTitan UA1207 4xTitan UA1207 4xTitan UA1207 2xSCB 2xSCB
185×185 km, 28.5 30,226 46,704 56,938 72,080 66,920 84,021
430×430 km, 51.6 25,576 40,033 48,915 61,287 57,540 71,297
430×430 km, 28.5 26,823 41,826 51,077 64,241 60,095 75,274
300×900 km, 97.8 22,240 35,229 43,129 24,906 N/A N/A
185×35785 km, 28.5 15,692 18,302 23,131 19,783 27,339 30,757
C3 = 0, 185xinf km 12,428 12,785 16,662 15,630 20,262 20,846
C3 = 15, 185xinf km 10,091 8,884 12,106 9,044 15,058 13,480

For Saturn M02 only, Centaur-E third stage assumed for all beyond Earth orbit missions. C3 = 0 corresponds to TLI, C3 = 15 to TMI. Vandenberg is used for or 300×900 km polar orbit DoD launches.

Titan Family

The Titan launch vehicle family not only served as the workhorse of the Air Force launch program from 1965 through 1982, but also formed a key part of the Air Force's ICBM force, with the Titan II being the largest ICBM in the US arsenal through the 1960s and 1970s.

Titan I

Backup system for SM-65 Atlas ICBM.

Titan II

Backup system for LGM-30 Minuteman ICBM, 63 Titan IIs were in put into service as ICBMs.

Titan II GLV

Modified TItan II for launch of the manned Gemini capsule into orbit.

Titan IIIA

Test bed for the Transtage upper stage used on the Titan IIIC.

Titan IIIB

Smaller version of the Titan with an Agena upper stage.

Titan IIIC

Workhorse version of the Titan with large solid rocket boosters.

Titan IIID

Modified Titan IIIC with no third stage. Used to launch large low Earth orbit payloads, ie. spy satellites.

Titan IIIE

Titan IIIC modified with a Centaur third stage. Designed to serve as NASA's interim planetary launch vehicle during the 1970s. Far more capable than the preceding Atlas-Centaurs.

Titan IIIF

Unmanned version of Titan IIIM for NASA use. Offered with a variety of third stages: Centaur, Transstage, and Agena. Titan IIIF was cancelled along with Titan IIIM in 1968 and replaced by Titan IIIE in NASA plans.

Titan IIIM

A modified Titan IIIC with 7-segment solid rocket motors and advanced controls, Titan IIIM was fitted with advanced control systems that were intended to make it usable for manned launches as part of the USAF Manned Orbiting Laboratory Program. While all work on Titan IIIM would end with MOL's cancellation, the 7-segment solids would survive as elements both in the ELVRP II Titan V proposal and the successful Saturn Multibody proposal.

Soviet/Russian Launch Vehicles


The Proton was started as a Chelomei “Super ICBM” program for 100 megaton H-Bombs (GRAU index 8K82K). After Khrushchev was ousted by the Soviet Union leaders, the project was transformed into one aiming to provide a medium launch vehicle, something for which the design was much better suited. The Proton was used for the unsuccessful Zond program to fly a cosmonaut around the Moon and launched first Alamaz and Salyut space stations before replaced in 1980s by the Vulkan Standard Launch vehicle

Payload to LEO (200×200 km at 52°) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome: 19600 kg

Soyuz (Rocket)

Started as R-7a ICBM program, became a family of launch vehicles (GRAU index 11A511). Its importance in spaceflight history is undeniable, as it served as the launch vehicle for first satellite (“Sputnik”), the first human to orbit Earth (Yuri Gagarin) and all Russian manned vehicles from the 1960s to early 1980s. After the termination of the Soyuz spacecraft program in favor of TKS in 1980, the Soyuz rocket is still used to launch smaller satellites than would be viable for the Vulkan, but which are too large for Tsyklon or Cosmos.


Soviet moonrocket designed by Korolev. After his death, Vasiliy Mishin took over the project. Various issues produced four consecutive failures. The troubled N-1 program was canceled in 1972, and Mishin would be replaced by Glushko in the same year.

Vulkan Family

After the cancellation of N-1, Valentin Glushko proposed a family of rockets that could fulfill a wide range of needs for the military and the space program, including the Soyuz and Proton rocket. Much like the Saturn Multibody concept proposed three years later, it would be a common-core design using up to five cores powered by a new high-thrust kerolox engine, the RD-150. A twin-chamber staged-combustion kerosene design, it would also form the basis for the vacuum-adapted single chamber RD-160 engine used on the second stage along with an RD-10 vernier engine. The third stage would initially be the Blok-R, originally developed for use with the N-1 moon rocket. The three core (Herakles) and five-core (Atlas) variants were intended to have the option of a new, wide-body third stage designed just for Vulkan, the Blok-T. (With four engines, the Blok-T would also improve on the abysmal ignition T/W of the Blok-R with its single 73 kN engine, a major performance improvement by itself.) However, like the Atlas variants itself, Blok-T would never leave the drawing boards. However, Soviet propaganda somehow managed to avoid mentioning this caveat when playing up the capability of their vehicle as “more than 100 tons”–a remarkable example of technical accuracy as the highest payload capacities of Vulkan-Atlas-T were just kilograms more–and Vulkan's true performance wouldn't be known in the West until the fall of the USSR when it came out alongside other Soviet secrets.

Vulkan Family Elements

Stage Name Description/Role Dry Mass Prop Mass Thrust (vac) ISp (vac) Thrust (sea level) ISp (sea level)
Vulkan-1 Common first-stage core of all Vulkan Vehicles, 3xRD-150 twin-chamber engines 57,681 kg 663,329 kg 12,388* kN 338 s 11,325 kN 309 s
Vulkan-2S-IVB Second stage of all Vulkan vehicles using single-chamber RD-160 and RD-10 vernier engine 21,957 kg 197,614 kg 2,350* kN 358 s N/A N/A
Blok-R Hydrolox third stage dervied from N-1 development work 4,300 kg 18,700 kg 73 kN 440 s N/A N/A
Blok-T Higher-capacity third stage for larger Vulkans“ 11,500 kg 56,110 kg 294 kN 440 s N/A N/A

* Capable of throttle to 70% maximum thrust for T/W reduction near end of burn. ” Never developed, see above description.

Vulkan Family Rockets

Vulkan Vulkan-R Vulkan-Herakles (R) Vulkan-Atlas (R) * Vulkan-Herakles (T) * Vulkan-Atlas (T) *
Boosters None None 2xVulkan-1 4xVulkan-1 2xVulkan-1 4xVulkan-1
Upper Stage None Blok-R Blok-R Blok-R Blok-T Blok-T
185×185 km, 51.6 23,654 29,125 59,186 66,480 71,645 100,007
430×430 km, 51.6 19,295 26,946 56,782 62,494 67,174 94,036
750×750 km, 98 8,816 19,973 45,098 47,728 51,650 72,548
185×35785 km, 51.6 N/A 11,928 30,360 30,352 31,457 46,437
C3 = 0, 185xinf km N/A 8,703 22,452 22,460 23,582 35,984
C3 = 15, 185xinf km N/A 6,448 17,169 17,182 17,956 28,164
1st Stage T/W @Ignition 1.20 1.19 1.40 1.47 1.37 1.44
1st Stage T/W @Burnout 3.5“ 3.50” 5.26“ 7.0” 5.0“ 6.25”
2nd Stage T/W @Ignition 0.85 0.80 0.65 0.60 0.55 0.51
2nd Stage T/W @Burnout 3.5“ 3.5” 1.81 1.48 1.21 1.04
3rd Stage T/W @Ignition N/A 0.47 0.17 0.13 0.21 0.17
3rd Stage T/W @Burnout N/A 1.11 0.21 0.16 0.34 0.26

* Unflown/proposed “ Throttled to limit burnout acceleration

European Launch Vehicles

The history of ESA and their Europa launch vehicles is discussed primarily in the three posts Post 9, Post 12, and Post 17

Europa 1

Constructed of stages from all of the major ELDO member states, the Europa 1 functioned more as a political and technical feasibility test than a functional launch vehicle.

Payload to LEO (200 km at polar orbit) from Woomera: 1200 kg

Payload to LEO (550 km at 28.5 degrees) from Kourou: 1150 kg

Vehicle info

Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3
Stage Name Blue Streak Coralie Astris
Builder Hawker-Siddeley SEREB ERNO
Diameter 3.05 m 2.01 m 2.01 m
Dry Mass 6400 kg 1660 kg 528 kg
Fuel Mass 87720 kg 10000 kg 2850 kg
Engine 2xRZ.2 4xVexin 1x and 2 vernier
Thrust (vac) 1576 kN 284 kN 22.56 kN + 2×0.4 kN
ISp (vac) 284s 277s 292s
Thrust (sl) 1334 kN N/A N/A
Isp (sl) 248s N/A N/A

Europa 2

Advanced variant of Europa 1, with an additional P0.7 kick stage used to optimize payload to geostationary tranfer orbit. Main launch vehicle for ESA from 1971 until the introduction of Europa 2-TA in 1975.

Payload to LEO (200 km equator) from Kourou: 1440 kg

Payload to GTO (200 km x 35700 km at equator) from Kourou: 440 kg

Payload to GEO (35700 km at equator) from Kourou: 230 kg

Vehicle info

Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4
Stage Name Blue Streak Coralie Astris P0.7
Builder Hawker-Siddeley SEREB ERNO SNIAS
Diameter 3.05 m 2.01 m 2.01 m 0.73 m
Dry Mass 6289 kg 2109 kg 540 kg 122 kg
Fuel Mass 88651 kg 9910 kg 3195 kg 685 kg
Engine 2xRZ.2 4xVexin 1x and 2 vernier 1x P0.7
Thrust (vac) 1576 kN 284 kN 22.56 kN + 2×0.4 kN 41.2 kN
ISp (vac) 284s 277s 292s 310s
Thrust (sl) 1334 kN N/A N/A N/A
Isp (sl) 248s N/A N/A N/A

Europa 2-TA

Thrust-augmented variant of Europa 2. Using two Black Diamant solid rocket boosters attached to the first stage to boost payload. Active from 1975 in parallel with continuing Europa 2 launches. As of 1982, intended to be replaced by the all-liquid Europa 2-HE after Europa 3 introduction.

Payload to LEO (200 km equator) from Kourou: 2110 kg

Payload to GTO (200 km x 35700 km at equator) from Kourou: 600 kg

Payload to GEO (35700 km at equator) from Kourou: 300 kg

Europa 2-HE

Europa 2 variant with new high-energy Aurore-B upper stage replacing Coralie. Studied as part of Europa 3 development in early 1980s, intended to be developed alongside Europa 4 family to fufill European launch needs with single set of common components. Notably, designing for this potential drove the selection of the 4.0m dimeter for the Aurore stage–a balance between insufficient diameter and excessive length for Europa 3/4 and excessive overhang on Europa 2 that might result in flight instabilities. First flight unscheduled.

Vehicle Info

Stage 1 Stage 2
Stage Name Blue Streak Aurore-B
Builder BAe Aerospatiale
Diameter 3.05m 4.0m
Dry Mass 7000 kg 1792 kg
Fuel Mass 82400 kg 18121 kg
Engine 2xRZ.2 3xHM-7B
Thrust (vac) 1576 kN 188 kN
ISp (vac) 287s 444s
Thrust (sl) 1334 kN N/A
ISp (sl) 248s N/A

Payload to LEO (Spacelab, 430×430 km, 51.6 degrees): 3800 kg

Payload to GTO (185×35786 km at 3.5 degrees) from Korou: 650 kg

Europa 3

More powerful vehicle developed to supplement existing Europa 2-TA and open up new lines of incremental evolution with introduction of two new stages, the French-built Aurore hydrogen/oxygen stage using 6xHM-7B and the UK-built kerosene-LOX Griffin first stage, a “super Blue Streak” powered by 4xRZ.2 engines. Development begun in late 70s, first flight projected as 1985.

Vehicle info

Stage 1 Stage 2 (Opt Stage 3)
Stage Name Griffin Aurore Astris
Builder BAe Aerospatiale ERNO
Diameter 4.31m 4.0m 2.01m
Dry Mass 14000 kg 3584kg 540 kg
Fuel Mass 164800 kg 36243kg 3195 kg
Engine 4xRZ.2 6xHM-7B 1x and 2 vernier
Thrust (vac) 3152 kN 376 kN 22.56 kN + 2×0.4 kN
ISp (vac) 287s 444s 310s
Thrust (sl) 2668 kN N/A N/A
ISp (sl) 248s N/A N/A

Payload to LEO (430×430 at 51.6 degrees): 7600 kg

Payload to GTO (35786×185 km at 3.5 degrees) from Kourou: 1800 kg (with Astris third stage)

Europa 4 Family

Europa 4 was part of Europa 3 planning, intended as a future development of a flexible system of launch options via the combination of the already-developed Aurore and Griffin stages, combined with a variable mix of up to 4 Blue Streak boosters and assorted upper stages. Combining heritage of the Europa 2 and Europa 3 development cycles, it was intended to offer the capacity necessary for the late 80s and 90s to support Earth-focused flights like comsats and commercial payloads, interplanetary probes, or even the long-discussed European manned space launch capability. Many variants were studied with a common designation systems of the form “Europa 4XY” where X was the number of Blue Streak boosters and Y indicated the presence of additional third stages, with “u” indicating the standard third stage, the half-length Aurore-B, and “a” indicating any Astris stage used. Europa 40 and 40a are identical to existing Europa 3 configurations. The system was intended for development following first Europa 3 launch.

Component info

Stage 0 Stage 1 Stage 2 (Opt Stage 3) (Opt Stage 3+)
Stage Name Blue Streak Griffin Aurore Aurore-B Astris
Builder BAe BAe Aerospatiale Aerospatiale ERNO
Diameter 3.05m 4.31m 4.0m 4.0m 2.01m
Dry Mass 7000kg 14000 kg 3584 kg 1792 kg 540 kg
Fuel Mass 82400kg 164800 kg 36243kg 18121 kg 3195 kg
Engine 2x RZ.2 4xRZ.2 6xHM-7B 3xHM-7B 1x and 2 vernier
Thrust (vac) 1576 kN 3152 kN 376 kN 188 kN 22.56 kN + 2×0.4 kN
ISp (vac) 287s 287s 444s 444s 310s
Thrust (sl) 1334 kN 2668 kN N/A N/A N/A
ISp (sl) 248s 248s N/A N/A N/A

Configurations and Payload Info

Europa 40 Europa 40a Europa 42 Europa 44 Europa 42u Europa 44u
430×430 km, 51.6 7600 kg 7000 kg 11850 kg 14850 kg 14983 18422
185×35785 km, 5.25 1500 kg 2500 kg 3041 kg 4169 kg 6000 kg 7500 kg

Europa 5 Family

Introduced in 2000, the Europa 5 family was a major overhaul of the available European launch vehicles. The venerable Blue Streak, with its history and production techniques stretching back to 1954, was to be eliminated along with the larger Griffin. Instead, a new core, intermediate between Griffin and Blue Streak was to be introduced, powered by a new Rolls-Royce staged-combustion kerolox engine developed based on Russian engine technology. The Aurore upper stage saw a similar overhaul, with the HM-7B engine seeing upgrades and updates to its production methods, increasing its specific impulse and thrust while reducing part count and assembly time. With a simplified production chain, the Europa 5 was intended to not only cover a wider range of performance, but to also compete more cost-effectively with American and Russian launch vehicles like Lockheed Titan, McDonnell Delta 5000, and the Russian Vulkan and Neva.

Component info

Core Stage 2 (Opt Stage 3)
Stage Name Peregrine Aurore-A Aurore-B
Builder BAe Aerospatiale Aerospatiale
Diameter 3.5m 4.0m 4.0m
Dry Mass 9400kg 3584 kg 1792 kg
Fuel Mass 110600kg 36243kg 18121 kg
Engine 1x RZ.4 4xHM-7C 2xHM-7C
Thrust (vac) 1890 kN 360 kN 180 kN
ISp (vac) 338s 454s 465s
Thrust (sl) 1750 kN N/A N/A
ISp (sl) 310s N/A N/A

Configurations and Payload Info

Europa 51 Europa 53 Europa 53u Europa 55 Europa 55u
Upper Stage(s) Aurore-B Aurore-A Aurore-A/B Aurore-A Aurore-A/B
430×430 km, 28.5 6,449 kg 16,483 kg 19,632 kg 22,565 kg 26,437 kg
185×35785 km, 5.25 2,992 kg 7,780 kg 10,543 kg 10,879 kg 14,247 kg
C3=0 2,146 kg n/a 8,390 kg n/a 11,388 kg
C3=15 1,542 kg n/a 6,853 kg n/a 9,363 kg

American Space Stations


Test station launched as much to gain experience with space station operations as anything else. Nearly unsuccessful due to failure of the sun/micrometeroid shield at launch, but saved by quick thinking at NASA (as described in Post 6 and Post 7. Played host to four astronaut crews in the Skylab 2, 3, 4, and 5 missions over a period of more than two years, before its controlled deorbiting by an AARDVark bus after Skylab 5.


Sole American space station as of 1982. Heavily modified and upgraded version of Skylab, it was designed to serve as the home of ASTP II, where Soviet and American spacefarers would spend several months together in space. After doing so, it became a joint US-European station with the addition of the European Research Module, ERM, in October 1979. Routinely plays host to American and European astronauts.


American-led space station program started in the wake of the Vulkan panic by President Reagan. Building on the experience gained from Spacelab and the capabilities of the Multibody rocket family, Freedom is much larger and more capable than the previous station, having been designed from the ground up to serve as a research outpost in space. It also includes significant material contributions from Europe, Japan, and Canada, making it a more international station than Spacelab.


American-led space station program created as a successor to Freedom, consisting of three core modules plus a number of additional lab modules. The habitat module made use of expandable technology first developed for the Artemis lunar habitats. The first modules are scheduled to launch in 2017.

Soviet Space Stations


Chelomei-designed military space stations, similar to the American MOL. Launched under the Salyut name.


General Soviet codename for all space stations. Excluding the Almaz design, the Salyut family consists of a series of DOS-derived stations leading up to Salyut 7, launched in 1983.


Advanced modular Soviet space station developed for launch aboard Vulkan, originally planned to consist of 2 large MOK base modules and 4 DOS laboratory modules. The first MOK module was launched in February 1987, but as of April 1989 only 3 of the DOS modules had been launched, with a 4th (funded by China) launched in 1996. Crew sizes fluctuated between 9 (the designed compliment) and 3 (a bare-bones ‘caretaker’ crew during the worst of the post-Soviet economic crisis).

Mir Base Block

Designation: MOK-1

Launch: February 1987

Purpose: Provides power and other utilities to the rest of the station, as well as some lab space. Crew quarters are provided by the Functional Cargo Blocks (FGBs) of visiting TKS spacecraft.


Designation: DOS-8

Launch: Late 1987

Purpose: Astrophysics. Also includes a dedicated EVA airlock.


Designation: DOS-9

Launch: 1988?

Purpose: Remote sensing. Includes the Oktava military sensor experiment, part of a Soviet response to SDI.


Designation: DOS-10

Launch: Late 1989

Purpose: Zero-gee manufacturing and materials science.

Tiangong (formally ‘Zemlya’)

Designation: DOS-11

Launch: June 1996

Purpose: Chinese Lab module. Equipped with dedicated solar panels and crew quarters.

Second Base Block

Designation: MOK-2

Launch: ??

Purpose: Expanded support and science facilities. Development was halted in 1988 with the module 75% complete in order to free up resources for completion of the DOS labs.

American Spacecraft


Workhorse of the NASA human spaceflight program. Gemini and Mercury were test vehicles; Apollo is the real operational vessel. The Block II version was used for lunar landings and early station flights before the introduction of the Block III, while the Block III and Block III+ have become reliable crew taxis by 1983, shuttling personnel back and forth from Spacelab.

Block I

Early model of the Apollo spacecraft lacking a docking adapter and designed for use on the Earth orbital test flights Apollo 1 and 2. After fire broke out in the Apollo 1 capsule, killing Virgil I. “Gus” Grisson, Edward H. White II, and Roger B. Chaffee, NASA cancelled all plans to use the Block I for human flights, skipping directly to the Block II for the Apollo 7 test flight. Several did fly on uncrewed test flights, however.

Block II

Apollo spacecraft model designed for use in lunar missions. Besides being used as the principal Earth-Moon and Moon-Earth transport spacecraft on all Apollo lunar flights, it also served as a crew transport vehicle for the Skylab 2, 3, and 4 missions.

Block III

Model for low Earth orbit. Although the designation was first used in the Apollo Application Project, it was later reused for the Apollo ferry spacecraft that served on the Skylab 5 and early Spacelab missions. Significant changes were made to better adapt Apollo to its new role as a crew shuttle, such as shortening the Service Module, reducing the size of the fuel tanks, and replacing the fuel cell power generation system by batteries.

Block III+

Advanced model for 5 astronauts with a separate Mission Module. After launch the CSM docks with the MM stored on top of the S-IVB stage (similar to the transposition and docking maneuver during lunar missions) and then proceeds to the space station.

Block IV

Apollo model developed for use with Space Station Freedom and Saturn Multibody. Built to use additional payload allowed by Saturn M02 compared to Saturn IC, Block IV is built on an enhanced-capacity service module (common with Aardvark Block II) and features a larger, more capable Mission Module, but retains the Block III command module with minor avionics updates.

Block V

Under development as part of Project Constellation to transport a crew of 4 to and from the Earth-Moon L-2 Lagrangian region, along with a Crew Lander, with both boosted to TLI by a “Pegasus” Exploration Cryogenic Upper Stage (ECUS). Evolving studies suggest that the ascent module of the Crew Lander will fill the role of Mission Module on lunar missions, with Earth orbit missions using the Block IV MM. The first lunar missions are targeted for 1999.

Apollo Model Specifications
Model Name First Flight Last Flight Number Flown CSM Mass MM Mass Cargo Mass Fuel Capacity Habitable Volume
Apollo Block I Feb 1966 April 1968 4 12,200 kg N/A ?? max 18,124 kg 6.2 m3
Apollo Block II Oct 1968 July 1974 16* 12,200 kg N/A ?? max 18,124 kg 6.2 m3
Apollo Block III May 1976 Jan 1980 8* 11,200 kg N/A ?? 1,600 kg 6.2 m3
Apollo Block III+ May 1980 Jan 1988 24 11,200 kg 3,250 kg 750 kg 1,600 kg 23 m3
Apollo Block IV Oct 1988 ?? ?? 12,000 kg 4,500 kg 2,500 kg 2,000 kg 23 m3
Apollo Block V March 1996 ?? 0 ?? N/A ?? ?? ??

*A 17th Block II CM was flown as part of Spacelab 5, mated to a Block III SM for systems checkout since the Block III CM was incompatible with Skylab's air mixture compared to that of Spacelab. CM-119 was cannibalized for this purpose. As the critical components tested were Block III, this flight is counted as a primarily Block III flight.



Developed to complement Block III Apollo by providing a cargo transport capability, the Aardvark consists of a Block III Service Module with a large Pressurized Module replacing the Command Module of the Apollo. This allows it to transport tons of food, water, scientific equipment, and other vital supplies to the station. A derivative of this Pressurized Module was used to develop the Block III+ Mission Module. The name is based on the acronym for Autonomous Automated Rendezvous and Docking Vehicle. AARDV mission code with -T suffix also used for assembly flights using AARDV bus as a delivery tug.

Cargo capacity: up to 2 tons of liquids, total capacity of 9,900 kg


As part of the buildup to Freedom, a new Aardvark variant was introduced. This used an enhanced bus to allow the -T variant to serve as a tug for the larger station components such as the inboard truss. Additionally, the pressurized cargo pod was switched to a new 5m diameter, and a new non-pressurized cargo bay inserted between it and the SM.

AARDVARK Block II Specifications
Model Name SM Mass PM Mass Pressurized Cargo Mass Unpressurized Cargo Mass Fluids Mass Fuel Capacity Pressurized Volume
AARDV Block II 6400 kg 2400 kg ~8000 kg ~1000 kg ~3000 kg 3500 kg max 45 m3

Soviet Spacecraft


Designed by Korolev, the Soyuz family of transports has been phased out by 1982 in preference of Chelomei's TKS design. However, during its decade of operation it, like Apollo, became a reliable transport of crews to and from Soviet space stations.


Chelomei vehicle designed to serve as a crew and supply transport to his Almaz stations. While Almaz has not been especially successful, it has been adapted to serve as the main Soviet crew transport to the new Vulkan-launched MOK station, and (while that is being readied for launch) to the interim Salyut 7 station.

See Also

timelines/eyes_turned_skyward_spacecraft_and_launch_vehicle_technical_data.txt · Last modified: 2020/02/03 23:28 by eofpi