Why did the Ulysses probe reach Jupiter much faster than Galileo? got me wondering about the largest rocket that was carried to space inside a Space Shuttle.

Largest in terms of some performance metric, perhaps total impulse, not dimension.


I'm having some trouble finding definitive numbers for some of the upper stages used with the shuttle, but these look like the biggies:

As Organic Marble notes, Ulysses was launched from Discovery's STS-41 mission on a combined IUS + PAM-S; PAM-S was based on a Star-48, but I can't find specs for that particular version. Assuming the yield would be around 50 MNs, the three stages together would constitute the most impulsive rocket carried inside the shuttle.

As these were all basically-contemporary solid rocket systems, the stage masses should be fairly well proportional to the total impulses, so the mass order should be similar.

"Shuttle Centaur" would have dominated the list at around 100 MNs, but plans for this stage were scrapped after the Challenger accident.


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