Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Covering the end of an era

The Titan missile, considered by many a "silent hero" of the Cold War, has performed it's final launch today. The program dates back to the 1950's and has been a workhorse for the US over the years:

"It's been a tremendous program, individually, for the corporation but also for the country," Yager said, ticking off Titan's contributions to ending the Cold War, advancing science and aiding today's warfighters.

"It was called the silent hero and it totally has been in the background providing capabilities that no other vehicle can provide," Yager added. "During its many years and even today, there's no other vehicle that can provide the capabilities that the Titan can."

At the same time it's been a cash-cow for Lockheed-Martin, it's predecessor's and many people who've lived and worked near Vandenberg AFB over the years. In fact, today's launch signifies the official retirementirment of a friend of the family associated with the Titan program.

Knowing this, I was struck by some of the local coverage written in the area today. The Lompoc Record serves an area surrounding the Base and covered the launch with this straight-forward piece. In Santa Maria, the local paper which shares content with the Record published the same story with a different headline here.

The largest paper in the south county and without much in the way of a direct competitor, is the Santa Barbara News Press. Note the headline given here: Lockheed to lay off workers at VAFB. It's not about the history, not about the program or the people. Directly anyway.

It appears to be rather about the negative effects of the program's termination on the Lockheed-Martin employees here in California and in Denver. A close read of the other coverage finds that this point was not neglected, rather it simply did not lede the story, and I'm left wondering why the difference in headlines.

And on one last personal note, Titans are huge. The launch occured at 11:06 AM, pretty much at the officially un-official time and well within the launch window given. The building shook and the rocket was audible from 25 miles away.

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