Titan IIIE

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Titan IIIE
Titan 3E Centaur launches Voyager 2.jpg
Launch of a Titan IIIE with Voyager 2
Function Expendable launch system
Manufacturer Martin Marietta
Country of origin  United States
Height 48 metres (157 ft)
Diameter 3.05 metres (10.0 ft)
Mass 632,970 kilograms (1,395,460 lb)
Stages 3-4
Payload to
15,400 kilograms (34,000 lb)
Payload to
Heliocentric orbit (TMI)
3,700 kilograms (8,200 lb)
Associated rockets
Family Titan
Launch history
Status Retired
Launch sites LC-41, Cape Canaveral
Total launches 7
Successes 6
Failures 1
First flight 11 February 1974
Last flight 5 September 1977
Notable payloads Voyager (1 / 2)
Viking (1 / 2)
Boosters (Stage 0) - UA1205
No boosters Two
Engines 1 solid
Thrust 5,849 kilonewtons (1,315,000 lbf)
Specific impulse 263 sec
Burn time 115 seconds
Fuel Solid
First Stage
Engines 2 LR87-11
Thrust 2,340 kilonewtons (530,000 lbf)
Specific impulse 302 sec
Burn time 147 seconds
Fuel A-50/N2O4
Second Stage
Engines 1 LR91-11
Thrust 454 kilonewtons (102,000 lbf)
Specific impulse 316 sec
Burn time 205 seconds
Fuel A-50/N2O4
Third Stage - Centaur-D
Engines 2 RL-10A-3
Thrust 131 kilonewtons (29,000 lbf)
Specific impulse 444 sec
Burn time 470 seconds
Fuel LH2/LOX
Fourth Stage (optional) - Star-37E
Engines 1 solid
Thrust 68 kilonewtons (15,000 lbf)
Specific impulse 284 sec
Burn time 42 seconds
Fuel Solid

The Titan IIIE or Titan 3E, also known as Titan III-Centaur was an American expendable launch system, launched seven times between 1974 and 1977.[1] It was used to launch several high-profile NASA missions, including the Voyager and Viking planetary probes, and the joint West German-US Helios spacecraft.

The Titan IIIE was a three-stage rocket, derived from the Titan IIIC. The primary difference was the replacement of the hypergolic Transtage third stage with the cryogenic Centaur-D upper stage to increase performance. It was the first Titan rocket to use a Centaur upper stage, which would later be used on the Titan IV. A four stage configuration, with an additional upper stage, a Star-37E, was also available, and was used for the two Helios launches.[2] Star-37E stages were also used on the two Voyager launches, but were considered to be part of the payload rather than the rocket.[3]

All seven launches were conducted from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral.

The first launch of a Titan IIIE (February 11, 1974) ended embarrassingly. Original plans were to fly a dummy Viking lander on the flight to test out the unproven booster combination, but NASA decided to piggyback it with a test satellite, SPHINX (Space Plasma High Voltage Interaction Experiment) designed to test the operation of high voltage power supplies in the vacuum of space. The Titan performed normally, but the Centaur's engines failed to start. Ground controllers waited and issued a manual start command 1:10 seconds later, but still nothing happened. 12 minutes after liftoff, the range safety destruct command was sent from a radar station in Antigua.

Launch History[edit]

Date/Time (GMT) S/N Payload Outcome Remarks
Titan Centaur
11 February 1974
23E-1 TC-1 Sphinx Failure Centaur LOX turbopump malfunction. RSO destruct at T+742 seconds.
10 December 1974
23E-2 TC-2 Helios-1 Successful
20 August 1975
23E-4 TC-4 Viking 1 Successful
9 September 1975
23E-3 TC-3 Viking 2 Successful
15 January 1976
23E-5 TC-5 Helios-2 Successful
20 August 1977
23E-7 TC-7 Voyager 2 Successful
5 September 1977
23E-6 TC-6 Voyager 1 Successful


Schematics of Titan IIIE with two solid rocket motors (Stage 0) and the Titan III core vehicle Stages I and II


  1. ^ Wade, Mark. "Titan". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  2. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "Titan-3E Centaur-D1T Star-37E". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  3. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "Titan-3E Centaur-D1T". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Titan IIIE at Wikimedia Commons