The Titan 2 rocket
Posted: June 22, 2002

  Titan 2
A Titan 2 rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex-4 West at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Photo: U.S. Air Force
Titan 2 is a medium-lift space launch vehicle used to carry payloads for the Air Force, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These payloads include the USAF Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) and the NOAA weather satellites. The Titan 2 is launched from Vandenberg AFB, Calif.

The Titan 2 space launch vehicle is a two-stage liquid fueled booster, designed to provide a small-to-medium weight class capability. It is able to lift approximately 4,200 pounds into a polar low-Earth circular orbit.

The first stage consists of a ground ignited LR87 liquid propellant rocket, while the second stage consists of a LR91 liquid propellant rocket.

The Titan family was established in October 1955, when the Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin (formerly the Martin Company) a contract to build an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). It became known as the Titan 1, the nation's first two-stage ICBM and first underground silo-based ICBM.

More than 140 Titan 2 ICBMs, once the vanguard of America's strategic deterrent force, were built.

Titan 2 facts  
First stage 70 feet long,
10 feet diameter
Engine thrust 474,000 pounds (vacuum)
Second stage 24 feet long,
10 feet diameter
Engine thrust 100,000 pounds (vacuum)
Payload fairing 20 feet long,
10 feet diameter
Fairing design Tri-sector skin and stringer construction
Guidance Inertial with digital computers
Source: U.S. Air Force fact sheet

Titan 2s also were flown in NASA's Gemini manned space program in the mid-1960s.

The Titan 2 space-launch vehicles are decommissioned ICBMs that have been refurbished and equipped with hardware required for use as space launch vehicles.

The Martin Marietta Astronautics Group was awarded a contract in January 1986 to refurbish, integrate, and launch fourteen Titan 2 ICBMs for government space launch requirements.

Tasks involved in converting the Titan 2 ICBMs into space launch vehicles include:

  • Modifying the forward structure of the second stage to accommodate payload

  • Manufacturing a new 10-foot diameter payload fairing with variable lengths plus payload adapters

  • Refurbishing the Titan's liquid rocket engines; upgrading the inertial guidance system; developing command, destruct and telemetry systems

  • Modifying Vandenberg AFB, Calif., Space Launch Complex-4 West to conduct the launches

  • Performing payload integration

Deactivation of the Titan 2 ICBM system began in July 1982 and was completed in June 1987. The deactivated missiles are now in storage at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. The Air Force successfully launched the first Titan 2 space launch vehicle from Vandenberg AFB September 5, 1988.

Flight data file
Vehicle: Titan 2 (G-14)
Payload: NOAA-M
Launch date: June 24, 2002
Launch window: 1822-1832 GMT (2:22-2:32 p.m. EDT)
Launch site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
Satellite broadcast: GE-2, Transponder 9, C-band

Pre-launch briefing
Launch timeline - Chart with times and descriptions of events to occur during the launch.

NOAA-M - General overview of this weather satellite.

Instruments - A look at the instruments aboard NOAA-M.

History - Past NOAA environmental satellites.