VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. The United States Air Force and Lockheed Martin closed out a proud five-decade history today with the final launch of a Titan IV B rocket carrying a critical national security payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) at 11:05 PST. All eyes were on Space Launch Complex 4 East as the nations heavy-lift workhorse thundered off the pad to deliver its final payload to space and retire from service.
Todays launch is the culmination of a tremendous amount of work by several organizations, said Col. Jack Weinstein, 30th Space Wing commander and final go for launch authority for the launch. There isnt a more satisfying feeling in the world than knowing you were part of something so important for our nation. I hope all our men and women, from our security forces to our medical professionals, to our Airmen overseeing the range to our launch group team, feel a tremendous amount of pride in this accomplishment. Nobody has a more exciting mission and every member of Vandenberg Air Force Base plays an important role in the success of that mission.
Todays spectacular launch is a fitting way to say goodbye to Titan, said G. Thomas Marsh, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. The Lockheed Martin employees who have given their utmost efforts to the program over the years join with our Air Force and NRO customers, and the many other organizations that make up the Titan team, in expressing our great pride in this service to our countrys space program.
Todays launch was the last launch for the Titan IV and the culmination of a long evolution from the original Titan I intercontinental ballistic missile. In all, 39 Titan IVs have been launched - 12 Titan IVs have been launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on the West Coast plus 27 more from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The final Titan IV mission from Cape Canaveral was launched successfully April 29, 2005.
While this is the last flight of the Titan IV, its a great opportunity to bring together literally thousands of people who have spent most of their adult life producing, processing and launching these vehicles so its a great tribute to the American spirit, according to Lieutenant General Michael Hamel, Space and Missile Systems Center Commander. "The Atlas V and the Delta IV Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles are going to provide our assured access to space and become the workhorse launch vehicles for the 21st century. We in uniform are terribly indebted to the nation, industry and community for being able to provide space power that gives our young men and women in harm's way the winning advantage.
The Titan IV was developed as the booster used to launch the nations largest, heaviest and most critical payloads. Titans initial IV A design was followed by Titan IV B with a new generation of large solid rocket motors, state-of-the-art guidance and electronics and a new ground processing system.
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