US rocket that has two versions: the three-stage Athena 1 that can launch up to 788 kg, and the four-stage Athena 2 capable of launching up to 1 958 kg. Athena rockets have flown six times, with Athena 1 first launched in 1997 and Athena 2 in 1998. Built by Lockheed Martin, the design was selected by NASA in March 2001 as one of three (the others are the Delta and Atlas) for its launch services for payloads that weigh 1 485 kg or more.
Athena rockets launched NASA's Lewis remote-sensing satellite in 1997 and the Lunar Prospector to the Moon in 1998. In September 2001, the Athena launched several small experimental satellites for NASA and the US Air Force from Kodiak Island in Alaska.
Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics.