Titan IIIC

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Titan IIIC
DF-SC-84-05192 cropped.jpeg
Launch of a Titan IIIC
Function Medium/Heavy launch vehicle
Manufacturer Martin
Country of origin United States
Height 42 m (137 ft)
Diameter 3.05m (10 ft)
Mass 626,190 kg (1,380,510 lb)
Stages 2-3
Payload to LEO 13,100kg (28,900 lb)
Payload to
3,000 kg (6,600 lb)
Payload to
1,200 kg (2,650 lb)
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
Engines 1 solid
Thrust 5,849 kN (1,315,000 lbf)
Specific impulse 263 secs
Burn time 115 seconds
Fuel Solid
First stage
Engines 2 x LR87-11
Thrust 2,339 kN (526,000 lbf)
Burn time 147 seconds
Fuel Aerozine-50/N2O4
Second stage
Engines 1 x LR91-11
Thrust 453 kN (102,000 lbf)
Burn time 205 seconds
Fuel Aerozine-50/N2O4
Third stage - Transtage
Engines 2 x AJ-10-138
Thrust 71.2 kN (16,000 lbf)
Burn time 440 seconds
Fuel Aerozine 50/N2O4

The Titan IIIC was a space booster used by the United States Air Force. It was planned to be used as a launch vehicle in the cancelled Dyna-Soar and Manned Orbiting Laboratory programs. The Titan III was also used to launch multiple satellites during a single mission. It was launched exclusively from Cape Canaveral while its sibling the Titan IIID was launched only from Vandenberg AFB. The majority of the IIIC's payloads were DoD satellites, namely for military communications and early warning. One flight was performed by NASA.


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

The Titan IIIC was the largest unmanned space booster used by the Air Force until being replaced by the Titan 34D in 1982. It provided assured capability for launch of large-class payloads. The vehicle was flexible in that it could be launched with no upper stage, or one of two optional upper stages for greater and varied carrying ability.

The Titan IIIC consisted of a hypergolic liquid-fueled core and two large solid rocket boosters. It was launched on the solid boosters – the liquid core ignited about two minutes into flight.

The Titan IIIC core consisted of two stages. The first, the Titan 3A-1, had two LR87 liquid propellant rocket engines that featured structurally independent tanks for its fuel (Aerozine 50) and oxidizer (Nitrogen Tetroxide). This minimized the hazard of the two mixing if a leak should have developed in either tank. Additionally the engine propellants were stored in a launch-ready state for extended periods. The second stage, the Titan 3A-2, consisted of an LR91 liquid propellant rocket engine attached to an airframe, much like stage 1. The third stage, the Titan Transtage, was a restartable upper stage used with the Titan IIC, Titan IIIA, and Titan 34D. The Transtage, like the two core stages, used liquid hypergolic fuels.


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 liquid oxygen and RP-1 (kerosene) 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 at the time, to be developed by the USAF. The Titan II had newly developed engines which used Aerozine 50 and Nitrogen Tetroxide as fuel and oxidizer.

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 first Titan IIIC flew on June 18, 1965. The last Titan IIIC was launched in March 1982. A later derivative was the Titan 34D.

As the IIIC consisted of mostly proven hardware, launch problems were generally only caused by the upper stages and/or payload. The second flight in October 1965 failed when the Transstage disintegrated in orbit and a flight the following August was lost when the shroud broke up at T+78 seconds, triggering an RSO destruct. The only other total failure was in 1978 when the Titan's second stage malfunctioned and had to be destroyed.

The IIIC and IIID were superseded by the Titan 34D in 1982.

General characteristics[edit]

  • 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[edit]


External links[edit]