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Delta Cryogenic Second Stage

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Delta Cryogenic Second Stage
A 4-meter DCSS from a Delta IV Medium
ManufacturerBoeing IDS
United Launch Alliance
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
(Original Delta III design and manufacturing)
(H-IIA/DCSS upper stage design, original version)
Country of originUnited States
Japan (Delta III, original)
Used onDelta III
Delta IV
SLS Block I
Launch history
Total launches45
(stage only)
18 Delta IV 4 m
23 Delta IV 5 m
Failed2 (Delta III)
Lower stage
1 (Delta III)
First flightAugust 27, 1998
Last flightNovember 16, 2022
Delta III second stage
Height8.8 meters (29 ft)
Diameter4 meters (13 ft)
Empty mass2,480 kilograms (5,470 lb)
Gross mass19,300 kilograms (42,500 lb)
Powered by1 RL10B-2
Maximum thrust110.1 kilonewtons (24,800 lbf)
Specific impulse462 seconds (4.53 km/s)
Burn time700 seconds
Delta IV 4-meter stage
Height12.2 meters (40 ft)
Diameter4 meters (13 ft)
Empty mass2,850 kilograms (6,280 lb)
Gross mass24,170 kilograms (53,290 lb)
Powered by1 RL10B-2
Maximum thrust110.1 kilonewtons (24,800 lbf)
Specific impulse462 seconds (4.53 km/s)
Burn time850 seconds
Delta IV 5-meter stage
Height13.7 meters (45 ft)
Diameter5 meters (16 ft)
Empty mass3,490 kilograms (7,690 lb)
Gross mass30,710 kilograms (67,700 lb)
Powered by1 RL10B-2
Maximum thrust110.1 kilonewtons (24,800 lbf)
Specific impulse462 seconds (4.53 km/s)
Burn time1125 seconds

The Delta Cryogenic Second Stage (DCSS) is a family of cryogenic rocket stages used on the Delta III and Delta IV rockets, and on the Space Launch System Block 1. The stage consists of a cylindrical liquid hydrogen (LH2) tank structurally separated from an oblate spheroid liquid oxygen (LOX) tank. The LH2 tank cylinder carries payload launch loads, while the LOX tank and engine are suspended below within the rocket's inter-stage. The stage is powered by a single Aerojet Rocketdyne-Pratt & Whitney RL10B-2 engine,[1] which features an extendable carbon-carbon nozzle to improve specific impulse.[2]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Rocket Talk: Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS)
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  • Delta Rocket History - Part II - Legacy Of Thor - America's Most Successful Rocket
  • NASA SLS Core Stage seen falling back to Earth under ICPS/Orion after Artemis launch! #Artemis
  • SLS Evolution: What are the SLS Blocks?


Delta III

The DCSS first flew on 3 Delta IIIs, failing two out of two times. A booster failed on the maiden flight and the rocket was destroyed by range safety, causing the loss of the DCSS before ignition. On its second flight, the stage tumbled uncontrollably, inserting the payload into a useless orbit. On the third flight, the stage performed the planned burn but fell short of the target orbit due to premature propellant exhaustion. The flight was deemed a failure.[3] An un-flown example is on display outside the Discovery Cube Orange County.[4]

Delta IV

Two different versions are flown, depending on variant. Composite interstages used to mate the first and second stages together accommodate the different configurations.[2] For the Delta IV-M, a tapering interstage that narrows down in diameter from 5 meters to 4 meters was used on the 4-meter DCSS, while a cylindrical interstage is used on the 5-meter DCSS (for Delta IV Heavy).[2]

Since the retirement of the Delta IV-M and Delta IV-M+ rockets, the DCSS has been used solely on the Delta IV Heavy in its 5-meter variation. As of June 2023, only one remains before ULA retires the Delta IV Heavy.[5]

Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage

The Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage, a minimally modified 5-meter DCSS, is used as the upper stage of the Space Launch System Block 1. The ICPS for Artemis I was mated to the SLS launch stack on July 6, 2021.[6][7] The ICPS will be used for the first three Artemis missions before being retired in favor of the in-development Exploration Upper Stage for Artemis 4.[8] It is powered by one Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10 engine and generates 24,750 lbs. of maximum thrust.

The Artemis 1 ICPS under construction


  1. ^ Robert A. Braeunig (2 November 2009). "Space Launchers—Delta". Rocket and Space Technology ( Retrieved 26 January 2012.
  2. ^ a b c "Delta IV Payload Planners Guide" (PDF). United Launch Alliance. September 2007. pp. 1–5 to 1–6. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 July 2011.
  3. ^ "Delta 8930". Retrieved 16 September 2022.
  4. ^ Dave Nordling (October 8, 2017). "Discovery Cube – Orange County". Reaction Research Society. Retrieved May 15, 2023.
  5. ^ Clark, Stephen (June 22, 2023). "Delta 4-Heavy rocket lifts off with NRO spy satellite". Spaceflightnow. Retrieved June 27, 2023.
  6. ^ Chris Bergin (4 October 2011). "SLS trades lean towards opening with four RS-25s on the core stage". Retrieved 26 January 2012.
  7. ^ Rosenberg, Zach. "Delta second stage chosen as SLS interim". Flight International, May 8, 2012.
  8. ^ Bergin, Chris (2020-02-03). "Upper Stage RL10s arrive at Stennis for upcoming SLS launches". Retrieved 2022-08-17.

This page was last edited on 19 November 2023, at 15:39
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