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Titan IV
Launch of a Titan IVB launch vehicle. (USAF)
Launch of a Titan IVB launch vehicle. (USAF)
Function Heavy expendable launch system
Manufacturer Lockheed Martin
Country of origin United States
Cost per launch US$432 million (USD)
Height 44 m (144 ft)
Diameter 3.05 m (10 ft)
Mass 943,050 kg (2,079,060 lb)
Stages 3-5
Payload to
21,680 kg (47,790 lb)
Payload to
Polar LEO
17,600 kg (38,800 lb)
Payload to
5,760 kg (12,690 lb)
Payload to
5,660 kg (12,470 lb)
Associated rockets
Family Titan
Comparable Atlas V, Delta IV-H
Launch history
Status Retired
Launch sites SLC-40/41, Cape Canaveral
SLC-4E, Vandenberg AFB
Total launches 39[1]
(IVA: 22, IVB: 17)
Successes 35
(IVA: 20, IVB: 15)
Failures 4 (IVA: 2, IVB: 2)
First flight IV-A: 14 June 1989
IV-B: 23 February 1997
Last flight IV-A: 12 August 1998
IV-B: 19 October 2005
Notable payloads Lacrosse
Boosters (IV-A) - UA1207
No boosters 2
Engines United Technologies UA1207
Thrust 14.234 MN (3,200,000 lbf)
Specific impulse 272 seconds (2667 N·s/kg)
Burn time 120 seconds
Fuel Solid
Boosters (IV-B) - USRM
No boosters 2
Engines Hercules USRM
Thrust 15.12 MN (3,400,000 lbf)
Specific impulse 286 seconds (2805 N·s/kg)
Burn time 140 seconds
Fuel Solid
First Stage
Engines 2 LR87
Thrust 2,440 kN (548,000 lbf)
Specific impulse 302 seconds (2962 N·s/kg)
Burn time 164 seconds
Fuel N2O4/A-50
Second Stage
Engines 1 LR91
Thrust 467 kN (105,000 lbf)
Specific impulse 316 seconds (3100 N·s/kg)
Burn time 223 seconds
Fuel N2O4/A-50
Third Stage (Optional) - Centaur-G
Engines 2 RL10
Thrust 147 kN (33,100 lbf)
Specific impulse 444 seconds (4354 N·s/kg)
Burn time 625 seconds
Fuel LH2/LOX

The Titan IV family (including the IVA and IVB) of space boosters were used by the U.S. Air Force.[2] They were launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida,[3] and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.[4] At the time of its introduction, the Titan IV was the "largest unmanned space booster used by the Air Force."[5]

The Titan IV was the last of the Titan family of rockets. It was retired in 2005 due to its high cost of operation. The final launch (B-30) from Cape Canaveral AFS occurred on April 29, 2005, and the final launch from Vandenberg AFB occurred on October 19, 2005.[6]

Lockheed Martin Space Systems built the Titan IVs near Denver, Colorado, under contract to the government.[1]


LR91-AJ-11 rocket engine

The Titan IV was developed to provide assured capability to launch Space Shuttle–class payloads for the Air Force. The Titan IV could be launched with no upper stage, or either of two upper stages, the IUS (Inertial Upper Stage), and the Centaur rocket upper stage.

The Titan IV was made up of two large solid-fuel rocket boosters and a two-stage liquid-fueled core. The two storable liquid fuel core stages used Aerozine 50 fuel and nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer. These propellants are hypergolic (ignite on contact) and are liquids at room temperature, so no tank insulation is needed. This allows the launcher to be stored in a ready state for extended periods. However, both propellants are extremely toxic.

The Titan IV could be launched from either coast: SLC-40 or 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station near Cocoa Beach, FL and at SLC-4E, at Vandenberg Air Force Base launch sites sixty miles north of Santa Barbara in California. Choice of launch site depended on mission parameters and mission goals.


The Titan rocket family was established in October 1955 when the Air Force awarded the Glenn L. Martin Company (now part of 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 liquid oxygen and RP-1 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 missile developed for the USAF at that time. The Titan II had newly developed engines which used Aerozine 50 and nitrogen tetroxide as fuel and oxidizer.

The Titan IV was flown in a variety of configurations depending on the launch needs, including no upper stages, IUS stages, or Centaur stages.[7]

Titan III development began in 1964 with the Titan IIIA. Years later, the Titan IVB evolved from the Titan III family and is similar to the Titan 34D. While the launcher family had had an extremely good reliability record in its first two decades, this began to change in the 1980s with the loss of a Titan 34D in 1985 followed by the disastrous explosion of another in 1986 due to a SRM failure.

In 1993, a naval reconnaissance satellite was lost when a Titan IV was destroyed at T+100 seconds into the launch due to another SRM malfunction.[8]

1998 saw the worst accident when a launch of a military ELINT satellite from Cape Canaveral failed around 70 seconds into the flight. An electrical failure caused the Titan to suddenly pitch downward, the resulting aerodynamic stress causing one of the SRMs to separate. The onboard destruct system automatically triggered, blowing the launch vehicle to pieces in a spectacular explosion. The launch was the final launch of the Titan IVA, and was intended to be so prior to its explosion.[9]

In 1988 and 1989, The R. M. Parsons Company designed and built a full scale steel tower and deflector facility, which was used to test the Titan IV Solid Rocket Motor Upgrade (SRMU). The launch and the effect of the SRMU thrust force on the space shuttle vehicle were modeled. To evaluate the magnitude of the thrust force, the SRMU was connected to the steel tower through load measurement systems and launched in-place. It was the first full scale test conducted to simulate the effects of the SRMU on the main space shuttle vehicle.[10]

In the early 1980s, General Dynamics conceived of using a Space Shuttle to lift a Lunar Module into orbit and then launch a Titan IV rocket with an Apollo-type Service Module to rendezvous and dock—making a moonship for a lunar landing. The plan required the Space Shuttle and Titan IV to use aluminum-lithium fuel tanks instead of aluminum to make a greater payload weight for takeoff. The original plan never came to fruition, but in the 1990s the Shuttle was converted to aluminum-lithium tanks to rendezvous with the highly inclined orbit of the Russian Mir Space Station. The Titan IVB became obsolete with the advent of the Atlas V rocket and the Delta IV heavy rocket booster launch vehicles in 2005.

A Titan IVB launched NASA's Cassini Saturn orbiter on October 15, 1997.

General characteristics

  • Primary Function: Space booster
  • Builder: Lockheed-Martin Astronautics
  • Power Plant:
    • Stage 0 consisted of two solid-rocket motors.
    • Stage 1 used an LR87 liquid-propellant rocket engine.
    • Stage 2 used the LR91 liquid-propellant engine.
    • Optional upper stages included the Centaur and Inertial Upper Stage.
  • Guidance System: A ring laser gyro guidance system manufactured by Honeywell.
  • Thrust:
    • Stage 0: Solid rocket motors provide 1.7 million pounds force (7.56 MN) per motor at liftoff.
    • Stage 1: LR87 provides an average of 548,000 pounds force (2.44 MN)
    • Stage 2: LR91 provides an average of 105,000 pounds force (467 kN).
    • Optional Centaur upper stage provides 33,100 pounds force (147 kN) and the Inertial Upper Stage provides up to 41,500 pounds force (185 kN).
  • Length: Up to 204 feet (62 m)
  • Lift Capability:
    • Can carry up to 47,800 pounds (21,700 kg) into a low-earth orbit
    • up to 12,700 pounds (5,800 kg) into a geosynchronous orbit when launched from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla.;
    • and up to 38,800 pounds (17,600 kg) into a low-earth polar orbit when launched from Vandenberg AFB.
    • into geosynchronous orbit:
      • with Centaur upper stage 12,700 pounds (5,800 kg)
      • with Inertial Upper Stage 5,250 pounds (2,380 kg)
  • Payload fairing:[11]
    • Manufacturer: McDonnell Douglas Space Systems Co
    • Diameter: 16.7 feet (5.1 m)
    • Length: 56, 66, 76, or 86 ft
    • Mass: 11,000, 12,000, 13,000, or 14,000 lb
    • Design: 3 sections, isogrid structure, Aluminum
  • Maximum Takeoff Weight: Approximately 2.2 million pounds (1,000,000 kg)
  • Cost: Approximately $250–350 million, depending on launch configuration.
  • Date deployed: June 1989
  • Launch sites: Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., and Vandenberg AFB, Calif.

Program Cost

In 1990, the Titan IV Selected Acquisition Report estimated the total cost for the acquisition of 65 Titan IV vehicles over a period of 16 years to US$18.3 billion (inflation adjusted US$ 33 billion in 2022).[12] The last Titan 401a launch that exploded cost 1.3 billion dollars.

See also


External links

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