launch vehicle

The launch vehicle is the part of a space vehicle which supplies the propulsion and guidance to reach the prescribed velocity, position, and attitude required for injection into the desired trajectory. Today's launch vehicles consist of two, three, or more propulsive stages, and can be classified in a number of ways. One of these is according to launch capacity, as shown in the table.


vehicle type capacity (kg) to LEO capacity (kg) to GTO examples
HLLV > 10,000 > 5,000 Ariane 5, Titan III, Space Shuttle, Zenit
LLV 5,000-10,000 2,000-5,000 Ariane 4, Atlas IIAS, CZ-2E, H-2, GSLV
MLV 2,000-5,000 1,000-2,000 Delta 7925, CZ-3, PSLV, Molniya, Tsyklon
SLV < 2,000 < 1,000 Athena I/II, ASLV, Pegasus XL, Start, Taurus


Further classification is possible into expendable, or non-reusable, launch vehicles and non-expandable launch vehicles.