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Titan Launch

December 18, 1996

Release 96-1204

Vandenberg to Launch Titan IV Rocket

VANDENBERG AFB, Calif. -- The 30th Space Wing here will launch a Titan IV rocket from Space Launch Complex Four East (SLC-4) Friday morning. The payload will be a reconnaissance satellite designed and built by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

The launch period begins at 8:30 a.m. Pacific Standard Time and closes at 11:00 a.m. The NRO will operate the satellite once in orbit. This event is the first time the U.S. Government has acknowledged, in advance, the launch of a reconnaissance satellite.

This will be the second Titan IV launch from Vandenberg this year. The last Titan IV launch from Vandenberg was in May 1996. The Titan IV also launches from Cape Canaveral Air Station, Florida.

The Titan IV is the largest unmanned booster in the nation's space launch inventory, and is capable of boosting 39,000 pounds into low-earth orbit.

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MEDIA ADVISORY: Media representatives interested in covering the Titan IV launch should contact the 30th Space Wing Public Affairs Office at (805) 734-8232, extension 6-3595 as early as possible to arrange accreditation, access to the media launch viewing area and live audio/video feeds. Media representatives should plan to arrive at Vandenberg's main entrance no later than 8:30 a.m. Friday to insure access to the launch viewing area.

Subject: Tomorrow's Titan 4 launch definitely a KeyHole
Thu, 19 Dec 1996 18:57:14 -0500
From: Ted Molczan <>
To: "'SeeSat-L'"

Further to my last message, I have just learned officially that the launch period is 16:30 to 19:00 UTC.

Also, I have obtained the following NOTAMS rectangle coordinates:

34 deg 39 min N, 120 deg 38 min W
34 deg 38 min N, 120 deg 33 min W
34 deg 27 min N, 120 deg 41 min W
34 deg 26 min N, 120 deg 36 min W

Calculating the azimuth along the long sides of the rectangle, I obtain 191.65 deg for both sides. That is about right for a sun-synchronous orbit, similar to that of the KeyHoles'.

So I am now certain that this will be a KeyHole, and I estimate launch about 18:07 UTC, or up to 15 min later.

December 20, 1996

Release Number 96-1205


VANDENBERG AFB, Calif. - A Titan IV rocket successfully launched a satellite from south Vandenberg at 10:04 a.m. Pacific Standard Time today. The rocket delivered its payload, a reconnaissance satellite, into polar orbit. Vandenberg's 4th Space Launch Squadron launched the Titan from Space Launch Complex 4 East.

"It was a fantastic launch - right on the mark," said Col. Bob Kehler, 30th Space Wing Commander.

The satellite was designed and built by the National Reconnaissance Office. This was the first time the U.S. Government has in advance, acknowledged the launch of a reconnaissance satellite.

This was the third Titan IV launch from Vandenberg in just over a year. The last two Titan IV launches from here occurred in December 1995 and May 1996. This vehicle is also launched from Cape Canaveral Air Station, Florida.


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