Class Of 1964 USAF Academy

Titan IV Expendable Launch Vehicle

By Doug Jenkins

051019TitanIVB26_med.jpg I worked on the Titan IV Expendable Launch Vehicle for 18 of my 22 years with Lockheed Martin. I worked first as a Test Engineer, then as a Mission Analysis Engineer and finally as a Systems Engineer.

The Titan IV was an amazing rocket. Generating over 3 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, Titan IV was capable of throwing over 30,000 pounds of payload into low earth orbit. Our primary mission was to launch classified payloads for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), but we also provided launch services for NASA, including such missions as Galileo to Jupiter and Cassini to Saturn.

My most gratifying work was payload integration, the process of mating the satellite vehicle with the launch vehicle. We verified all mechanical, electrical and environmental interfaces, and provided our customer with every assurance that we could deliver the payload to the precise point in space and time required.

The Titan IV had two launch bases, Vandenberg AFB, CA and Cape Canaveral AFS, FL. I worked mostly west coast launches until 2002, when the NRO customer asked us if we could move Titan IVB-30, a vehicle previously processed for launch from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg AFB, across the country to Cape Canaveral's Launch Complex 41 (LC-41).

"Piece of Cake," we replied. "Just send money." Given authority to proceed, we re-engineered all the vehicle interfaces to enable it to fly from LC-41. In the process, we had to come to grips with many other differences--different people, different culture, different environment.

We launched Titan IVB-30 from the Cape in April 2005. I was in a control room about a mile from the launch pad,, but I was able to step outside the building to witness a spectacular launch into a clear night sky. Lois was on the causeway shuttle launch viewing area, about 3 miles from LC-41. It was a very proud day indeed.

The last Titan, Titan IVB-26, was launched from Vandenberg AFB in October 2005. I and many other members of the Titan Team retired in January 2006. All in all, it was an excellent second career.
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