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Reflections on Centaur Upper Stage Integration by the NASA Lewis (Glenn) Research CenterThe NASA Glenn (then Lewis) Research Center (GRC) led several expendable launch vehicle (ELV) projects from 1963 to 1998, most notably the Centaur upper stage. These major, comprehensive projects included system management, system development, integration (both payload and stage), and launch operations. The integration role that GRC pioneered was truly unique and highly successful. Its philosophy, scope, and content were not just invaluable to the missions and vehicles it supported, but also had significant Agencywide benefits. An overview of the NASA Lewis Research Center (now the NASA Glenn Research Center) philosophy on ELV integration is provided, focusing on Atlas/Centaur, Titan/Centaur, and Shuttle/Centaur vehicles and programs. The necessity of having a stable, highly technically competent in-house staff is discussed. Significant depth of technical penetration of contractor work is another critical component. Functioning as a cohesive team was more than a concept: GRC senior management, NASA Headquarters, contractors, payload users, and all staff worked together. The scope, content, and history of launch vehicle integration at GRC are broadly discussed. Payload integration is compared to stage development integration in terms of engineering and organization. Finally, the transition from buying launch vehicles to buying launch services is discussed, and thoughts on future possibilities of employing the successful GRC experience in integrating ELV systems like Centaur are explored.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Graham, Scott R. (NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Date Acquired
September 26, 2014
Publication Date
July 28, 2014
Subject Category
Launch Vehicles and Launch Operations
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
AIAA Joint Propulsion Conference(Cleveland, OH)
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 736466.
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
Launch Vehicle
Launch Vehicle

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