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Any of a series of U.S. liquid-fueled rockets originally developed as ICBMs but later used as space launch vehicles. The Titan I missile (deployed 1962–65) was designed to deliver a four-megaton nuclear warhead over 5,000 mi (8,000 km) to targets in the Soviet Union. It was replaced by the much larger Titan II, which carried a nine-megaton warhead. Titan II was the principal weapon in the land-based U.S. nuclear arsenal until the 1980s, when it was replaced by solid-fueled ICBMs (e.g., Minuteman missiles). NASA used the Titan II to launch Gemini spacecraft in the 1960s; deactivated Titan II missiles were refurbished as space launchers. Titan III was a space launcher based on Titan II; much used in the 1970s for space probes, it usually was configured with strap-on boosters and often an upper-stage vehicle. The Titan IV, developed in the late 1980s, was built with larger engines to lift heavy space cargo such as that carried by the space shuttle. Coupled with strap-on boosters and the Centaur upper stage, it was the most powerful expendable launch vehicle in the U.S. until its retirement in 2005.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Titan rocket, visit Britannica.com.
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