NASA's Titan 4 Failures: Three Out of Three

CAPE CANAVERAL - The Air Force blew their latest Milstar satellite into a useless orbit April 30, putting another $1.2 billion up in smoke.  The Pentagon blames manufacturer Lockheed Martin for poor quality control.

Each of NASA's last three Titan 4 rocket launches have failed.  The total cost to taxpayers: $3 billion.  The latest Titan clinker is drifting without enought fuel to right its orbit.  The new satellite was intended to enhance far-flung military actions and provide fast data-rate transmissions.

Milstar satellites were developed in the cold war to provide jam-proof communication during nuclear war.  The Air Force says it can also use Milstar to support troops, tanks, ships and aircraft in the field, pick up phone conversations and locate rocket launch sites.  The system was employed during the 78-day bombardment of Yugoslavia.

With the plutonium-laden Cassini Space Probe due to fly-by the Earth August 17 at 42,000 MPH, NASA's six rocket failures in less than nine months don't inspire confidence.

-Florida Today, May 1, 1999; Lockheed Martin, Press Release, April 29, 1999; AP aerospace writer, Marcia Dunn, May 5, 1999.