Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE: LMT) and Alliant Techsystems (NYSE: ATK), have entered into a strategic teaming agreement to offer launch services utilizing upgraded and modernized Athena rockets. These vehicles, based on the flight-proven Athena I and II, are designed to provide reliable access to space for small payloads to a wide range of orbits. Lockheed Martin will provide mission management, payload integration, and launch operations, and ATK will provide integrated vehicle propulsion, launch vehicle structures, booster integration and launch site operations.
The two-stage Athena Ic and three-stage Athena IIc launch vehicles incorporate the new CASTORÂ® 30 upper stage motor and upgrades to electronic systems. Athena is available for launches beginning in 2012, with a payload lift capability that supports a variety of customer mission requirements including NASA, the Department of Defense and other space markets.
â€œThe Athena launch vehicle family offers low-risk, reliable launch services at an affordable price,â€ said John Karas, Vice President and General Manager, Human Space Flight, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. â€œAthena combines both companiesâ€™ heritage and expertise in launch systems, and makes key system upgrades to provide an enhanced product, skill set and performance capabilities to meet market needs.â€
Athena can carry payloads up to 3,775 pounds (1,712 kg) to low Earth orbit as well as missions to the moon. Utilizing a large 92-inch diameter payload fairing, the vehicle accommodates a wide range of satellites and missions.
The rockets can be launched from multiple locations including Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Kodiak Launch Complex, Vandenberg Air Force Base and NASA Wallops Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport.
â€œThe new Athena family will fill an industry need for lift capability in this payload range,â€ said Scott Lehr, Vice President and General Manager, Strategic and Commercial Systems, ATK Aerospace Systems. â€œThere is a growing need for responsive launch capabilities to serve the Department of Defense, NASA and other customer requirements.â€
First-generation Athena I and II rockets became operational in 1995 and have flown seven times. Athena II launched the Lunar Prospector to the moon in 1998 and remains the only commercially developed launch vehicle to fly a lunar mission.
These second-generation Athena launch vehicles use the same flight-proven ATK CASTOR 120Â® for Stage I and Stage II. The modernized launch vehicles benefit from the latest technology of a newly-developed and ground-tested CASTORÂ® 30 for their upper stage, and Lockheed Martinâ€™s modernized electronic systems. Both solid rocket motors are in production and are being used on other launch vehicles in the industry.