Athena II at Complex 46
Athena II at Complex 46 Zoom

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.

Athena II specifications and performance
Length 100 ft. Diameter 7 ft., 9 in.
Stage Stage name Engine(s) Propellant(s) Thrust
1 Castor 120 1 Thiokol Castor 120 Solid 435,000 lbs.
2 Castor 120 1 Thiokol Castor 120 Solid 435,000 lbs.
3 TLI 1 Thiokol STAR 37FM Solid 10,625 lbs.
4 OAM 1 Rocket Research MR-107 Hydrazine (attitude control)

Return to Complex 46
Photo courtesy of NASA (Photo ID: KSC-97PC-1800).
Tour home CCAFS map Website map