It Is Rocket Science!

As the launch industry is heating up, U.S. boosters are blowing up. What's behind all the flameouts?

The Gemini astronauts of the 1960s never much cared for flying into space atop a Titan 2 rocket. Originally built as a military missile, the Titan had a tendency to leap off the pad and scream into orbit with a suddenness that plastered even the most hardened pilot against his seat. Punishing as the Titans of the 1960s were, however, there was one thing you could say for them: they got where they were going.

Not so the Titans of the 1990s. The past nine months have been hard ones for the Titan booster, now made by Lockheed-Martin, and for the...

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