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Titan Geneology
Titan Geneology

Credit: © Mark Wade. 13,328 bytes. 639 x 460 pixels.

The Titan launch vehicle family was developed by the United States Air Force to meet its medium lift requirements in the 1960's. The reasons given for developing the booster in parallel with the NASA Saturn I of the same class were that the solid fuel boosters and storable (although corrosive and toxic) liquid propellants of the core provided a vehicle with improved readiness compared to the Saturn. However USAF 'ownership' (no NASA claims of priority) and the NIH (Not Invented Here) syndrome were probably more important factors.

Whatever the controversies at its genesis, the Titan has outlived the Saturn and will continue in use in the 21st century. It was originally conceived as a carrier of manned military spacecraft - first the X-20A Dynasoar, then the Gemini B and Manned Orbiting Laboratory, and finally lifting body spaceplanes in support of MOL follow-on space stations. All of these projects were cancelled in turn. Titans have been used instead to launch unmanned military spacecraft, ranging from heavy photoreconnaisance platforms in low earth orbit to geosynchronous communications, missile launch detection, and ELINT satellites.

After NASA junked the Saturn launch vehicle family in the mid-1970's, and the Challenger disaster in the 1980's, Titans were used for launching NASA deep-space probes. Whatever trouble NASA managed to get itself into, the Titan was still there to keep its planetary exploration program going.

Titan has not been successful as a commercial launch vehicle, the Ariane of similar technology providing lower-cost access to space. Current development of the XCRV manned spacecraft may result in the Titan 4 providing the US with its only manned access to space in the event of another Shuttle disaster or cancellation of the Shuttle and International Space Station projects.

Launch Vehicle: Titan-Vanguard.

The Martin Company proposed to the Department of Defense that the first stage of the Titan I intercontinental ballistic missile be combined with the Vanguard rocket to provide a launch vehicle capable of placing an instrument package into lunar orbit and on the lunar surface. NASA was instead given the mission and used Atlas/Agena and Atlas/Centaur for this purpose instead.

Launch Vehicle: Titan 1.

ICBM, built as back-up to Atlas, using two stages instead of one and a half, and conventional tank construction in lieu of balloon tanks. Was also to have been used for suborbital tests of X-20A Dynasoar manned space plane. For unknown reasons never refurbished for use as space launcher and scrapped after being replaced by Titan II in missile role in mid-1960's.

Launch Vehicle: Titan 2. ICBM, used as Gemini launch vehicle in 1960's. When ICBM's retired in 1980's they were refurbished and new series of launches began.

Launch Vehicle: Titan 3A. Titan with Transtage third stage. Core for Titan 3C.

Launch Vehicle: Titan 3C. Titan 3A with five segment solid motors.

Launch Vehicle: Titan 3B. Standard Titan core with Agena upper stage. Found to be more cost effective and higher performance than using Transtage.

Launch Vehicle: Titan 3BAS2. Configuration of Titan 3B proposed by Martin in mid-1960's. Titan 3B for deep space missions with Centaur upper stage, Algol strapons for liftoff thrust augmentation. Never flown.

Launch Vehicle: Titan 3C7. Variant of Titan 3C with seven segment solid motors. Proposed by Martin for precise delivery of payloads beyond Titan 3C capacity into geosynch orbit. Never flown.

Launch Vehicle: Titan 3D. Titan 3C without transtage.

Launch Vehicle: Titan 3L2. Variant of Titan with 15 foot Large Diameter Core, 2 x 7 segment strap-ons. Man-rated, optimized for delivery of heavy payloads into LEO. Never developed.

Launch Vehicle: Titan 3L4. Variant of Titan with 15 foot Large Diameter Core, 4 x 7 segment strap-ons. Man rated, optimized for delivery of 40,000 pound manned payloads into 250 nm / 50 deg space station orbit.

Launch Vehicle: Titan 3M.

Man-rated launch vehicle designed for MOL and other missions of the 1970's. Malfunction Detection System initiated abort procedures during launch. Also suited for launch of 'bulbous and lifting body payloads'. 7 segment UA1207 motors developed but not used until Titan 4 in 1990's. Cancelled with MOL program in 1969.

Launch Vehicle: Titan 3E. Titan 3D with Centaur D upper stage. Used by NASA for deep space missions in 1970's.

Launch Vehicle: Titan 34B. Stretched Titan core, originally developed for Titan 3M MOL, with Agena upper stage.

Launch Vehicle: Titan 34D. Stretched Titan core with 5 1/2 segment solid rocket motors. IUS (Interim/Inertial Upper Stage) solid upper stages or used without upper stages. Commercial Titan 3, marketed in 1990's, was a modification of the 34D.

Launch Vehicle: Barbarian MM.

The Zenith Star space-based chemical laser missile defence weapon required a launch vehicle capable of placing a 45,000 kg payload into low earth orbit. Martin and Aerojet turned to their work 20 years earlier on advanced Titans for the MOL program. These earlier studies were combined with new concepts for tank construction and materials. The Martin Barbarian was a 4.57 m diameter Titan vehicle (instead of the customary 3.05 m) with four LR-87 engines on the first stage, and a single LR-87 engine on the second stage. Another variant reportedly consisted of 5 Titan 4 SRM's, clustered around a 5.8 m diameter core. This core would use 5 LR-87 engines, with tankage fabricated on Shuttle external tank tooling. The third stage would utilize a single LR87 engine. Expected cost of the Barbarian per launch was expected to be $ 400-500 million.

Launch Vehicle: Titan 5. Proposed Titan upgrade with cryogenic core as replacement for NLS.

Launch Vehicle: Titan 4.

Developed to handle military payloads designed for launch on Shuttle from Vandenberg before the USAF pulled out of the Shuttle program after the Challenger disaster. Further stretch of core from Titan 34, 7-segment solid rocket motors (developed for MOL but not used until 25 years later). Enlarged Centaur G used as upper stage (variant of stage designed for Shuttle but prohibited for flight safety reasons after Challenger). Completely revised electronics. All the changes resulted in major increase in cost of launch vehicle and launch operations.

Launch Vehicle: Titan 4B. Titan 4 with Upgraded Solid Rocket Motors replacing UA1207. Developed to improve performance for certain missions, and reduce number of field joints in motor after Challenger and Titan 34D explosions involving segmented motors.

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Last update 3 May 2001.
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© Mark Wade, 2001 .