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Last Titan rocket launched

Associated Press
Published October 20, 2005

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - For the 368th and last time, the United States launched a Titan rocket into space Wednesday.

The blastoff of the 16-story, unmanned Titan IV signaled the end of an era that began in 1959, as the U.S. military converts to cheaper space boosters.

The last Titan carried a secret payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, which oversees the nation's spy satellites.

Titan's past included high-profile missions, including boosting Gemini manned spacecraft into orbit in the mid 1960s as preparation for the Apollo moon landings.

The workhorse rocket, originally designed by Lockheed Martin Corp. as a weapon-bearing intercontinental ballistic missile for the Cold War, also sent many scientific craft on their way to Mercury, Mars and the outer planets.

About 3,000 spectators and military dignitaries gathered at Vandenberg Air Force Base, north of Los Angeles, to watch Wednesday's historic launch.

In April, spectators gathered at Cape Canaveral to bid farewell during the final Titan launch there.

[Last modified October 20, 2005, 01:20:19]

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