Launch of Titan IV-B rocket.
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Courtesy of the United States Air Force and Lockheed Martin

Titan Rocket Finally Completes First Mission
News story originally written on May 24, 1999

The new Titan IV-B rocket finally completed a successful mission today after months of failure. The Lockheed Martin missile carried a secret machine for the United States Air Force.

On board the vehicle was a secret spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office. An earlier mission was supposed to launch a similar satellite into orbit, but the Titan rocket blew up after liftoff, destroying the $1 billion satellite.

The Titan IV is the nation's largest unmanned rocket, but it has a terrible record. The rocket failed to launch in two previous attempts and blew up in another. A planned mission to send NASA's Quickscat weather satellite into orbit has been delayed because the Titan IV isn't ready for launch.

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