The last Titan IV-B core vehicle to be launched from Vandenberg arrived at the base flightline aboard a C-5 transport aircraft May 2, marking the end of an era for the venerable launch vehicle.

According to Capt. Dan Wetmore, 2nd Space Launch Squadron, the vehicle, dubbed B-26, was transported from the flightline to a vehicle assembly building, where it will undergo minor processing activities until it’s ready to be brought to Space Launch Complex 4E for launch.

There are currently only two Titan IV’s remaining on Vandenberg awaiting the launch of their respective payloads. B-26 is scheduled to boost a classified payload for the Air Force in 2003.

“The Titan IVB spacelift vehicle consists of many components,” said 1st Lt Deborah Newman, 2nd SLS. “Components include the core; stages I and II; the solid rocket motor upgrades; stage 0, which is here at Vandenberg undergoing processing activities; and the payload fairing, which is in storage here as well.”

Having been produced for the past 41 years at Lockheed Martin’s Denver facility, the rocket has served as the United States’ most powerful and largest expendable launch vehicle. Its long history has seen varied missions — the first of which included service as an intercontinental ballistic missile.

“Its service began in 1961, when the Martin Corporation rolled out the first Titan I, a kerosene and liquid oxygen-propelled ICBM equipped with a single nuclear warhead,” said Wetmore.

In May of that same year, a Titan I was taken to Vandenberg for the first ever Titan silo launch. Since that time, the Titan has been a part of Vandenberg’s launch history and its success.

In 1963, it was upgraded to become the Titan II, which utilized hydrazine and a less volatile oxidizer.

In 1966, Vandenberg saw the Titan III, the first Titan specifically designed for satellite launch. From that point, it evolved into what we know today as the Titan IV-B.

Throughout the years, the Titan saw numerous other missions and roles to include launching Gemini astronautics, Viking spacecraft, Voyager missions, Cassini, and most recently, critical national security payloads.

During its more than 40 years of service, over 350 Titan launches have taken place, 196 at Vandenberg. Only three of those launches have been Titan IVB models.

The Lockheed Martin-built Atlas V and Boeing-built Delta IV Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles are scheduled to replace all current Titan, Delta and Atlas heritage systems. The Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle is the Air Force spacelift modernization program designed to reduce the cost of launching by at least 25 percent over current space launch systems, saving $6 billion in launch costs between the years 2002 and 2020.