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Titan Rocket Finally Completes First Mission - Windows to the Universe

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Launch of Titan IV-B rocket.
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Courtesy of the United States Air Force and Lockheed Martin

Titan Rocket Finally Completes First Mission
News story originally written on May 24, 1999

The new Titan IV-B rocket finally completed a successful mission today after months of failure. The Lockheed Martin missile carried a secret machine for the United States Air Force.

On board the vehicle was a secret spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office. An earlier mission was supposed to launch a similar satellite into orbit, but the Titan rocket blew up after liftoff, destroying the $1 billion satellite.

The Titan IV is the nation's largest unmanned rocket, but it has a terrible record. The rocket failed to launch in two previous attempts and blew up in another. A planned mission to send NASA's Quickscat weather satellite into orbit has been delayed because the Titan IV isn't ready for launch.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF