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Lockheed and ATK revive Athena rocket program
Posted: Fri, Mar 26, 2010, 7:02 AM ET (1102 GMT)
Athena 2 launch of Lunar Prospector (NASA) Lockheed Martin and Alliant Techsystems announced Thursday that they were introducing the Athena line of small launch vehicles, primarily to go after civil and military government customers. The two-stage Athena 1c and three-stage Athena 2c will be able launch payloads of up to approximately 1,700 kilograms to low Earth orbit starting in 2012. The companies said the vehicles will use a new upper stage motor, the Castor 30, as well as upgraded electronics. They hope to attract business from NASA and Defense Department customers. The companies said the vehicles would be sold "at an affordable price" without being more specific; pricing is said to be "cost-competitive" to the Minotaur series of small launchers marketed by Orbital Sciences Corporation. The original Athena rockets launched seven times, with two failures, between 1995 and 2001.
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