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Titan IIIC

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Title: Titan IIIC  
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Subject: Spaceflight/On This Day/Index, Titan IIIA, Titan IIIE, Titan IV, Commercial Titan III
Collection: 1971 in Spaceflight, 1973 in Spaceflight, 1974 in Spaceflight, Lockheed Martin, Titan (Rocket Family)
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Titan IIIC

Titan IIIC

Launch of a Titan IIIC
Function Medium/Heavy launch vehicle
Manufacturer Martin
Country of origin United States
Height 137 ft (42 m)
Diameter 10 ft (3.05m)
Mass 1,380,510 lb (626,190 kg)
Stages 2-3
Payload to LEO 28,900 lb (13,100kg)
Payload to
6,600 lb (3,000 kg)
Payload to
2,650 lb (1,200 kg)
Associated rockets
Family Titan
Launch history
Status Retired
Launch sites LC-40 & 41, CCAFS
SLC-6, Vandenberg AFB (unused)
Total launches 36
Successes 31
Failures 5
First flight 18 June 1965
Last flight 6 March 1982
Boosters (Stage 0) - UA1205
No boosters 2
Thrust 1,315,000 lbf (5,850 kN)
Specific impulse 263 secs
Burn time 115 seconds
Fuel Solid
First Stage
Engines 2 LR87-11
Thrust 526,000 lbf (2,340 kN)
Burn time 147 seconds
Fuel Aerozine-50/N2O4
Second Stage
Engines 1 LR91-11
Thrust 102,000 lbf (450 kN)
Burn time 205 seconds
Fuel Aerozine-50/N2O4
Upper Stage - Transtage
Engines 2 AJ-10-138
Thrust 16,000 lbf (71 kN)
Burn time 440 seconds
Fuel Aerozine 50/N2O4

The Titan IIIC was an expendable launch system used by the United States Air Force from 1965 until 1982. It was the first Titan booster to feature large solid rocket motors and was planned to be used as a launcher for the Dyna-Soar and Manned Orbiting Laboratory, though both programs were cancelled before any astronauts flew. The majority of the launcher's payloads were DoD satellites, namely for military communications and early warning, though one flight was performed by NASA. The Titan IIIC was launched exclusively from Cape Canaveral while its sibling, the Titan IIID, was launched only from Vandenberg AFB.


  • History 1
  • Design 2
  • General characteristics 3
  • Launch history 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


The Titan rocket family was established in October 1955 when the Air Force awarded the Glenn L. Martin Company (later Martin Marietta and now Lockheed Martin) a contract to build an intercontinental ballistic missile (SM-68). It became known as the Titan I, the nation's first two-stage ICBM, and replaced the Atlas ICBM as the second underground, vertically stored, silo-based ICBM. Both stages of the Titan I used kerosene (RP-1) and liquid oxygen (LOX) as propellants. A subsequent version of the Titan family, the Titan II, was similar to the Titan I, but was much more powerful. Designated as LGM-25C, the Titan II was the largest USAF missile at the time and burned Aerozine 50 and nitrogen tetroxide (NTO) rather than RP-1 and LOX.

The Titan III family consisted of an enhanced Titan II core with or without solid rocket strap-on boosters and an assortment of upper stages. All SRM-equipped Titans (IIIC, IIID, IIIE, 34D, and 4) launched with only the SRMs firing at liftoff, the core stage not activating until SRM jettison at two minutes into launch. The Titan IIIA (an early test variant flown in 1964-65) and IIIB (flown from 1966-87 with various upper stages) had no SRMs.[1] The Titan III launchers provided assured capability and flexibility for launch of large-class payloads.

Titans that carried SRBs (Titan IIIC, IIID, 34D, and IV) contained a special range safety system known as the Inadvertent Separation Destruction System (ISDS) that consisted of several lanyards attached to the SRBs that would trigger and automatically destroy them if they prematurely separated from the core, said "destruction" consisting mainly of splitting the casings open to release the pressure inside and terminate thrust. The ISDS would end up being used a few times over the Titan's career.

As the IIIC consisted of mostly proven hardware, launch problems were generally only caused by the upper stages and/or payload. The second launch in October 1965 failed when the Transstage suffered an oxidizer leak and was unable to put its payload (several small satellites) into the correct orbit. The third launch in December experienced a similar failure.

The fifth Titan IIIC (August 26, 1966) failed shortly after launch when pieces of the payload fairing started breaking off. Around 80 seconds, the remainder of the shroud disintegrated, causing the Titan to pitch down at a sharp angle that resulted in one SRM separating. The automatic ISDS system activated and destroyed the entire launch vehicle, sending its cargo of IDCSP communications satellites into the Atlantic Ocean.

A Titan IIIC in November 1970 failed to place its missile early warning satellite in the correct orbit due to a Transstage failure and a 1975 launch of a DSCS military comsat left in LEO by an another Transstage failure.

On March 25, 1978, a launch of a DSCS satellite ended up in the Atlantic Ocean when the Titan second stage failed to start due to a hydraulics malfunction and was destroyed by Range Safety.

The first Titan IIIC flew on June 18, 1965 and was the most powerful launcher used by the Air Force until it was replaced by the Titan 34D in 1982. The last IIIC was launched in March 1982.


MOL mockup launch by a Titan IIIC on Nov. 3, 1966 from LC-41 Cape Canaveral

The Titan IIIC weighed about 1,380,000 lb (626,000 kg) at liftoff and consisted of a two-stage Titan core and upper stage called the Titan Transtage, both burning hypergolic liquid fuel, and two large UA1205 solid rocket boosters.

The solid boosters were ignited on the ground and were designated "stage 0". Each booster composed of five segments and was 10 ft (3.0 m) in diameter, 85 ft (26 m) long, and weighed nearly 500,000 lb (230,000 kg). They produced a combined 2,380,000 lbf (10,600 kN) thrust at sea level and burned for approximately 115 seconds.[2] Solid booster jettison occurred at approximately 116 seconds.[3]

About two seconds later, the first core stage ignited. Designated the Titan 3A-1, this stage was powered by two Aerojet LR-87-11 engines that burned about 240,000 lb (110,000 kg) of Aerozine 50 and nitrogen tetroxide (NTO) and produced 526,000 lbf (2,340 kN) thrust over 147 seconds. The Aerozine 50 and NTO were stored in structurally independent tanks to minimize the hazard of the two mixing if a leak should have developed in either tank.

The second core stage, the Titan 3A-2, contained about 55,000 lb (25,000 kg) of propellant and was powered by a single Aerojet LR-91-11, which produced 102,000 lbf (450 kN) for 145 seconds.

The upper stage, the Titan Transtage, also burned Aerozine 50 and NTO. Its two Aerojet AJ-10-138 engines were restartable, allowing flexible orbital operations including orbital trimming, geostationary transfer and insertion, and delivery of multiple payloads to different orbits. This required complex guidance and instrumentation.[3] Transtage contained about 22,000 lb (10,000 kg) of propellant and its engines delivered 16,000 lbf (71 kN).

General characteristics

  • Primary Function: Space booster
  • Builder: Martin Marietta
  • Power Plant:
  • Length: 42 m
    • Stage 0: 25.91 m
    • Stage 1: 22.28 m
    • Stage 2: 7.9 m
    • Stage 3: 4.57 m
  • Diameter:
    • Stage 0: 3.05 m
    • Stage 1: 3.05 m
    • Stage 2: 3.05 m
    • Stage 3: 3.05 m
  • Mass:
    • Stage 0: Empty 33,798 kg/ea; Full 226,233 kg/ea
    • Stage 1: Empty 5,443 kg; Full 116,573 kg
    • Stage 2: Empty 2,653 kg; Full 29,188 kg
    • Stage 3: Empty 1,950 kg; Full 12,247 kg
  • Lift capability:
    • Up to 28,900 lb (13,100 kg) into a low-earth orbit with 28 degrees inclination.
    • Up to 6,600 lb (3,000 kg) into a geosynchronous transfer orbit when launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL.
  • Maximum takeoff weight: 626,190 kg
  • Cost:
  • Date deployed: June 1965.
  • Launch sites: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL., and Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA.

Launch history


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Titan 3C". Astronautix. Retrieved February 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "Titan". Retrieved February 2015. 

External links

  • Titan3C
  • Titan III & variations
  • Future Space Booster Requirements - January–February 1969 Air University Review
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