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Air Force clears way for Titan rockets to return to flight

Released: 2 Feb 1999


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.(AFPN) -- After a six-month stand down, Air Force Space Command's Titan launch vehicle fleet is ready to begin its return to flight.

AFSPC temporarily suspended launch of its Titan IVBs and Titan IIs following an Aug. 12, 1998, mishap involving a Titan IVA carrying a National Reconnaissance Office satellite. It was the last scheduled launch for the "A" model.

The results of the Accident Investigation Board inquiry indicated electrical shorts in the Vehicle Power Supply wiring harness most likely caused the vehicle to catastrophically fail approximately 41 seconds into powered flight. The shorts originated in the second stage of the core vehicle.

After thoroughly reviewing the most likely cause of the mishap, the Air Force, in concert with Lockheed Martin Astronautics, developed a list of corrective actions necessary to ensure the Titan launch vehicles are able to return to flight. All corrective actions must be completed before the rockets are cleared to launch.

The commanders of the 30th and 45th Space Wings from Vandenberg and Patrick Air Force Bases, respectively, concurred with a plan which outlines the return to flight criteria.

The wing commanders are the launch authorities on the East and West Coasts and are responsible for ensuring that all return to flight criteria are met before they resume launching the Titan IVBs and Titan IIs.

Specific to the Titan IVA-20 mishap, steps that have or will be taken to meet the RTF criteria include:

- Re-inspect all wire harnesses of current Titan launch vehicles.

- Redesign or modify systems related to vehicle power and guidance.

- Improve inspection, protection and documentation procedures.

The Air Force Space Command commander and the director, National Reconnaissance Office have agreed on the plan to return the Titan to flight. Air Force Space Command, the Space and Missile Systems Center and Lockheed Martin Astronautics have already completed most of the corrective actions for the Titan fleet.

A Titan IVB carrying a Defense Support Program satellite is slated to liftoff from Cape Canaveral AS, Fla., in late March or early April and a Titan II is scheduled to be launched from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., in late April.

The Air Force has a 94 percent success rate for all launch vehicles. The United States operates the safest and most reliable launch fleet in the world. (Courtesy of AFSPC News Service)

RELATED SITES

** Air Force Space Command
** Titan IV
** 30th Space Wing
** 45th Space Wing