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Published on Apr 28, 2013
Archival NASA video footage of a Titan II launch vehicle first stage separation. Titan II employed a "fire-in-the-hole" (FITH) separation technique whereby the second stage ignites its single engine before the first stage engine is completely shut down, as well as before first stage separation and staging clearance. In the first few seconds prior to separation, you can see the exhaust products from the second stage engine venting out of the interstage exhaust ports. After stage separation and as the second stage clears away from the first stage, the second stage engine ramps up rapidly in thrust with enough force to blast away part of the interstage structure on top of the first stage.