Heavy-lift launch vehicle

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A heavy-lift launch vehicle, HLV or HLLV, is an orbital launch vehicle capable of lifting between 20,000 to 50,000 kg to low Earth orbit (LEO).[1] As of 2017, operational heavy-lift launch vehicles include the Ariane 5, the Proton-M and the Delta IV Heavy.[2] In addition, the Angara A5, the Falcon 9 Full Thrust, the Falcon Heavy and the Long March 5 are designed to provide heavy-lift capabilities but have not yet been proven to carry a 20-tonne payload into LEO. Several other heavy-lift rockets are in development.

Heavy-lift rated launch vehicles[edit]

Rocket In service Manufacturer Max. LEO payload Launches over 20,000 kg Heaviest launch
…to LEO …to GTO …beyond GTO

Operational[edit]

Currently operational rockets that have demonstrated their heavy-lift capability to low Earth orbit:

Ariane 5
(ECA and ES)
since 2002 Europe Airbus for ESA 21,000 kg
(46,000 lb)[3]
4 20,293 kg[4]
Georges Lemaître ATV
29 July 2014
10,865 kg[5]
ViaSat-2 and Eutelsat 172B
1 June 2017
~6,000 kg
to Sun-Earth L2[6]
Herschel and Planck
14 May 2009
Delta IV Heavy since 2004 United States ULA 28,790 kg
(63,470 lb)[7]
1 public
(up to 4 classified)
~21,000 kg[8][a]
Orion EFT-1
5 December 2014
Classified[b] Classified[b]
Proton-M since 2001 Russia Khrunichev 23,000 kg
(51,000 lb)[9]
0 N/A
(22,776 kg by predecessor Proton-K)
6,740 kg[10]
ViaSat-1
19 October 2011
3,755 kg
to Mars[11]
ExoMars TGO
9 June 2016

Unproven[edit]

Rockets that have not flown a 20-tonne payload to LEO, but are rated over this threshold:

Angara A5 since 2014 Russia Khrunichev 24,500 kg
(54,000 lb)[12]
0 N/A 2,000 kg[13]
Mass simulator
23 December 2014
N/A
Falcon 9
(expendable configuration)[c]
since 2015 United States SpaceX 22,800 kg
(50,300 lb)[14]
0 9,600 kg[15]
Iridium NEXT × 10
14 January 2017
6,761 kg[16]
Intelsat 35e
5 July 2017
570 kg
to Sun-Earth L1[17]
DSCOVR
11 February 2015
Falcon Heavy
(partially reusable configuration)[d]
since 2018 United States SpaceX 38,000 to 45,000 kg
(84,000 to 99,000 lb)
[18][19]
0 N/A N/A 1,300 kg
beyond Mars[20]
Tesla Roadster
6 February 2018
Long March 5
(CZ-5)
since 2016 China CALT 25,000 kg
(55,000 lb)[21]
0 N/A N/A 4,000 kg
to GEO[22][23]
Shijian 17
3 November 2016

Retired[edit]

Formerly operational rockets with a payload capacity of between 20 and 50 tonnes:

Saturn IB 1966 to 1975 United States Chrysler (S-IB), Douglas (S-IVB) 21,000 kg
(46,000 lb)[24]
2 20,847 kg
Skylab 4
November 16 1973
N/A N/A
Proton-K 1967 to 2012 Soviet Union Russia Khrunichev 19,760 kg
(43,560 lb)[25]
4[26] 22,776 kg
Zvezda
July 26, 2000
4,723 kg
Intelsat 903
March 30, 2002
6,220 kg
to Mars
Phobos 1
July 7, 1988
Space Shuttle 1981 to 2011 United States United Space Alliance 24,400 kg
(53,800 lb)
(in cargo bay)[27]
11 22,064 kg
STS-34
18 October 1989
N/A N/A
Titan IV 1989 to 2005 United States Lockheed Martin 21,680 kg (47,800 lb)[28] up to 17 (classified) Classified[b] Classified[b] 5,712 kg
to Saturn
Cassini–Huygens
October 15, 1997

In development[edit]

Rockets that are actively being developed:

Ariane 6 (A64) NET 2021
(A62 in 2020)[29]
Europe ArianeGroup for ESA 21,650 kg (47,730 lb)[30]:46 N/A N/A N/A N/A
New Glenn 2021[31] United States Blue Origin 45,000 kg (99,000 lb)[32] N/A N/A N/A N/A
Vulcan / Centaur April 2021[33] United States United Launch Alliance 25,000 kg (56,000 lb)[34] N/A N/A N/A N/A
Vulcan / ACES NET 2023[35] United States United Launch Alliance 37,400 kg (82,500 lb)[7][36][e] N/A N/A N/A N/A

Earlier concepts[edit]

Ares I N/A United States NASA
(canceled in 2010)[37]
25,400 kg (56,000 lb) N/A N/A N/A N/A
  1. ^ The officially reported mass of 21,000 kg includes the Launch Abort System (LAS) which did not reach orbit, but excludes the residual mass of the upper stage, which did reach orbit, likely offsetting the mass of the LAS.
  2. ^ a b c d Actual payloads flown are classified under the NRO launch program.
  3. ^ Fairing recovery may be possible in all configurations; if the first stage is recovered, the payload capacity only fits the medium-lift launch vehicle criteria.
  4. ^ Configurations with recovered side-boosters or no recovered boosters are technically classified as super heavy-lift launch vehicles since their theoretical payloads to LEO are over 50,000 kg
  5. ^ Calculated as 30% more than Delta IV Heavy, per sources

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ NASA Space Technology Roadmaps - Launch Propulsion Systems, p.11: "Small: 0-2t payloads, Medium: 2-20t payloads, Heavy: 20-50t payloads, Super Heavy: >50t payloads"
  2. ^ May, Sandra (27 August 2014). "What Is a Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle?". NASA. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  3. ^ "Ariane 5 Users Manual, Issue 4, P. 39 (ISS orbit)" (PDF). Arianespace. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-11-13.
  4. ^ "Lanzamiento del ATV-5 Georges Lemaître (Ariane 5 ES)".
  5. ^ "Arianespace marks its 2017 mid-year launch milestone with a record-setting Ariane 5 mission at the service of ViaSat and Eutelsat" (Press release). Arianespace. 1 June 2017. Retrieved 2 June 2017.
  6. ^ http://www.arianespace.com/mission-update/arianespace-launches-two-spacecraft-on-missions-to-explore-the-universe/
  7. ^ a b "Delta IV Launch Services User's Guide, June 2013" (PDF). United Launch Alliance. June 2013. pp. 2–10. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  8. ^ "NASA Orion Exploration Flight Test-1 PRESS KIT" (PDF). NASA. December 2014. p. 12.
  9. ^ "Proton Launch System Mission Planner's Guide – Section 2. LV Performance" (PDF). International Launch Services. July 2009. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  10. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "ViaSat 1". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  11. ^ "ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO)". European Space Agency. 12 July 2012. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  12. ^ Spaceflight101, Angara-a5
  13. ^ "Russia made its first test launch "Angara-A5"". RIA Novosti. 23 December 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  14. ^ Capabilities & Services (2016)
  15. ^ de Selding, Peter B. (15 June 2016). "Iridium's SpaceX launch slowed by Vandenberg bottleneck". SpaceNews. Retrieved 11 June 2017. Each Iridium Next satellite will weigh 860 kilograms at launch, for a total satellite payload mass of 8,600 kilograms, plus the 1,000-kilogram dispenser.
  16. ^ Graham, William (3 July 2017). "SpaceX Falcon 9 launches with Intelsat 35e at the third attempt". NASASpaceflight.
  17. ^ "DSCOVR: Deep Space Climate Observatory" (PDF). NOAA. January 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 14, 2015.
  18. ^ Elon Musk [@elonmusk] (30 April 2016). "@elonmusk Max performance numbers are for expendable launches. Subtract 30% to 40% for reusable booster payload" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  19. ^ http://www.spacex.com/about/capabilities
  20. ^ "Tesla Roadster (AKA: Starman, 2018-017A)". ssd.jpl.nasa.gov. March 1, 2018. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  21. ^ "China conducts Long March 5 maiden launch". NASASpaceflight.com. 2016-11-03. Retrieved 2016-11-03.
  22. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "SJ 17". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  23. ^ "China's Shijian-17 Satellite settles in Geostationary Orbit for Experimental Mission". Spaceflight101.com. 2016-11-24. Retrieved 2018-02-21.
  24. ^ Entering the Race to the Moon, Saturn IB Established Its Place in Space.
  25. ^ http://www.khrunichev.ru/main.php?id=54
  26. ^ http://www.spacelaunchreport.com/proton.html
  27. ^ astronautix.com, Space Shuttle
  28. ^ astronautix.com, Titan IV Archived 18 February 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ Clark, Stephen (13 August 2016). "Ariane 6 rocket holding to schedule for 2020 maiden flight". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  30. ^ Lagier, Roland (March 2018). "Ariane 6 User's Manual Issue 1 Revision 0" (PDF). Arianespace. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  31. ^ "Blue Origin resets schedule: First crew to space in 2019, first orbital launch in 2021". Geekwire. 10 October 2018. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  32. ^ Foust, Jeff (8 March 2017). "Eutelsat first customer for Blue Origin's New Glenn". SpaceNews. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  33. ^ Foust, Jeff (25 October 2018). "ULA now planning first launch of Vulcan in 2021". SpaceNews. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  34. ^ "United Launch Alliance Building Rocket of the Future with Industry-Leading Strategic Partnerships" (Press release). United Launch Alliance. 27 September 2018. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  35. ^ DeRoy, Rich S.; Reed, John G. (February 2016). "Vulcan, ACES and beyond: providing launch services for tomorrow's spacecraft" (PDF). Advances in the Astronautical Sciences. Univelt. 157: 228. AAS 16-052. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  36. ^ "Vulcan Centaur". United Launch Alliance. 2018. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  37. ^ "Constellation Is Dead, But Pieces Live On". Aviation Week, 26 October 2010.

Further reading[edit]

  • Mallove, Eugene F. and Matloff, Gregory L. The Starflight Handbook: A Pioneer's Guide to Interstellar Travel, Wiley. ISBN 0-471-61912-4.