||Athena II at Complex 46
It is December 16, 1997, and the Complex 46 Mobile Access Structure has been
rolled away from an Athena II. This Athena II will carry as payload the Lunar
Prospector spacecraft: a small robotic craft that will map the Moon's
composition, and its gravitational and magnetic fields. The Lunar Prospector
will first be placed in a parking orbit around Earth, then a STAR 37FM TLI
(Trans Lunar Injection) stage will fire, propelling the spacecraft toward
the Moon. The spacecraft will orbit 63 miles above the lunar surface, carrying
out its survey.
The Athena family of vehicles is manufactured by Lockheed
Martin, and has been in use since 1997. Development began in 1993, and the first
launch (an Athena I) took place on August 22, 1997. The first Athena II launched
is this mission: the Lunar Prospector, on January 6, 1998. The Athena II used
for this launch is a modified version: the third stage is a Thiokol STAR 37FM
engine, replacing the usual Pratt & Whitney SRM-1 engine.