The Cape, Chapter 2, Section 8

TITAN and Shuttle Military Space Operations

TITAN IV Operations after First Launch

With regard to later TITAN IV launch operations at the Cape, the second TITAN IV was a basic launch vehicle with no upper stage. It was referred to as the TITAN IV/NUS or Vehicle K-4. The core vehicle arrived at the Cape on 29 June 1989, and it was erected on Transporter #1 in Cell #2 by 25 October 1989. The Acceptance CST was completed on 25 January 1990, and the core vehicle was mated to its partial solid rocket motor stacks on March 1st. Launch Vehicle K-4 was moved out to Complex 41 on 12 March 1990, and solid rocket motor stacking was completed at the pad on April 28th. A classified payload was mated to the launch vehicle on May 5th, and the Launch CST was completed successfully on May 30th. The countdown for the Cape's second TITAN IV launch was largely uneventful (i.e., only one six-minute unscheduled hold for weather constraints was noted). The vehicle lifted off the pad at 0521:41Z on 8 June 1990. Martin Marietta's test report on the vehicle confirmed that all TITAN systems performed normally in flight.73

The third TITAN IV vehicle (K-6) arrived at the Cape on 10 December 1989. The core vehicle was erected on Transporter #1 in Cell #2 by 24 February 1990, and the Acceptance CST was completed successfully by June 19th. The core vehicle was moved to the SMAB on 22 June 1990, and it was mated to its solid rocket motors on June 24th. Launch Vehicle K-6 was moved out to Complex 41 on 25 June 1990, and the IUS was mated to the launch vehicle on July 6th. The classified payload was mated on 25 July 1990, and the payload fairing was installed by September 6th. The Launch CST on September 9th was successful, but the first launch attempt was scrubbed on September 23rd due to range computer software loading difficulties. Another Launch CST ran successfully on November 5th, and the countdown on November 12th was largely uneventful. TITAN IV-6 lifted off Complex 41 at 0037:02Z on 13 November 1990. According to Martin Marietta's test report on the flight, all TITAN systems performed normally.74

Figure 87: Arrival of CENTAUR Upper Stage at Skid Strip

Martin Marietta began processing TITAN IV/CENTAURs in the early 1990s, but TITAN IV/CENTAUR launch operations were delayed by two ATLAS I/ CENTAUR upper stage flight failures  in 1991 and 1992. In effect, the flight mishaps cast doubt on the reliability of CENTAUR upper stages in general, and all ATLAS/CENTAUR and TITAN/CENTAUR launch operations had to stand down (albeit for varying periods of time). In the aftermath of the failures, the Air Force agreed to let Martin Marietta roll back and destack two different TITAN IV vehicles that had been standing (or were likely to stand) on Complex 41 for more than a year. In the first instance, the TITAN IV languished on the pad during the lengthy investigation into the first ATLAS I/CENTAUR flight failure. That TITAN had been standing on the pad for about a year when Martin recommended it be rolled back and demated in July 1992. In the aftermath of the second investigation, TITAN/CENTAUR upper stages had to be modified. Since CENTAUR modifications pushed the first TITAN/CENTAUR launch back to the summer of 1993 (at the very least), the next TITAN IV/CENTAUR (stacked in the summer of 1992) had to be rolled back from the pad and destacked in February 1993. Another TITAN IV/CENTAUR was moved out to Pad 41 on 30 March 1993, but it remained to be seen if it would suffer the same fate as its immediate predecessors.75

Despite the setback in TITAN IV/CENTAUR operations, the Air Force continued to upgrade other TITAN facilities at the Cape to handle the TITAN IV vehicle. In the spring of 1990, Martin Marietta was awarded a major contract to upgrade Complex 40 into a TITAN IV launch site. Martin Marietta, in turn, awarded a $100 million subcontract to Bechtel National, Inc. in early June 1990 to cover the remaining design, procurement and construction effort. The project included a new Mobile Service Tower (MST), a new Umbilical Tower (UT) and supporting systems. Both new towers were designed with a high level of corrosion resistance in mind, and the UT was built stronger to handle the heavier SRMU loads anticipated in the near future. The old UT was completely demolished by the end of August 1990, and MST demolition was ahead of schedule. Reconstruction was a monumental task: the new 265-foot-tall MST contained 21 working levels and the 170-foot-tall UT contained 15 working levels. A new Air-Conditioning Shelter (ACS) was equipped to handle all projected requirements for the new TITAN IV, its CENTAUR upper stage and payloads. Launch pad modifications extended to fuel and oxidizer waste tank containment areas, security systems and the fuel vapor incinerator area.76

Figure 88: Erection and Mate of CENTAUR at VIB Cell 3
December 1990

The new UT was completed in the fall of 1991, and the new MST was completed in April 1992. All aerospace ground equipment was installed by the spring of 1992, but the launch facility experienced crane test failures in April, and electromagnetic interference (EMI) leaks were discovered around Complex 40's EMI doors. The leaks were repaired, but four doors failed independent EMI tests in August 1992. Martin Marietta was compelled to develop recovery plans for the EMI condition, which became the "driver" in delaying completion of the project. By mid-October, the problem pushed Complex 40's initial TITAN IV launch capability to 1 December 1992. New "finger stock" passed high frequency and low frequency tests in November 1992, and that stock was installed on 55 EMI doors in December 1992. Air-Conditioning Shelter enhancement continued into the early part of 1993, and Complex 40 received its first TITAN IV/CENTAUR launch vehicle on 2 June 1993. That vehicle was launched successfully on a MISTAR communications satellite mission on 7 February 1994.77

Figure 89: Reconstruction of Complex 40
May 1991

The Cape: Miltary Space Operations 1971-1992
by Mark C. Cleary, Chief Historian
45 Space Wing Office of History
1201 Minuteman Ave, Patrick AFB, FL 32925