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by Jean-Jacques Serra
listing by Gunter Krebs

Lockheed Launch Vehicle (LLV) or Lockheed-Martin Launch Vehicle (LMLV), later renamed Athena

The first achievement of Lockheed Missiles & Space Co. in the large solid missiles category was in the late 50ies with the FBM (Fleet Ballistic Missile) Polaris program. Lockheed built all the US SLBM (Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile): Polaris A1 (first fire i 1958), A2 (1960), A3 (1962), Poseidon C3 (1965), Trident-1 C4 (1977) and Trident-2 D5 (1987).

In Jan 1993 Lockheed started designing a launch vehicle program aimed at light satellites (civilian and military). Those launchers are based on the existant solid boosters: Thiokol Castor 120, UTC/CSD Orbus 21 with eventually Thiokol Castor 4 boosters.

The LLV-1 is the smallest rocket of the series. It's a 66.3 tons vehicle of 19.8 m high and 2.34 m diameter (2 first stages). The first stage is a Castor-120 GT, derived from the first stage of the MX Peacekeeper missile. It is also used by OSC's Taurus. This booster is 8.89 m long and weights 54 tons. It provides 1550 kN thrust (in vaccum) during 86 seconds. The second stage uses an Orbus-21D which is also used for the IUS first stage and on TOS perigee stages. The Orbus-21D is 3.15 m long and weighs upto 10.4 tons (including 9.7 tons powder). It can provide a mean thrust of 196 kN during 154 seconds. LLV-1 has an OAM (Orbit Adjust Module) which has ten 200 N hydrazine Olin boosters. The AOM is used to pilote the rocket during the ballistic phase and provide a high precision orbit insertion.

The LLV-1 will be able to orbit upto 1 ton in LEO, the 3-stage LLV-2 should launch 2 tons and the LLV-3 assisted by 2 Castor-4 boosters upto 4 tons.

Lockheed Martin has an agreement (dated 1995) with the US Air Force to launch as many as 10 of the rockets over the next 15 years.

In 2010 upgraded versions of Athena I & II are announced, using the new Castor 30 upper stage, and the flight-proven Castor 120 as first stage, available in early 2012. Payload upto 1712 kg can be lofted into LEO.

Athena launches

# Launch id Payload Launch date Site Type Status (orbit in perigee x apogee x inc. x period)
1 n/a Gemstar 15 Aug 1995 V 1 Failure: The first stage separated on time, but the rocket started oscillating a few secons earlier
2 97044 Lewis 23 Aug 1997 at 06:51 UT V 1 289 x 603 km x 97.6°
3 98001 Lunar Prospector 7 Jan 1998 at 02:28 UT C LC46 2  
4 99002 Rocsat 1 27 Jan 1999 at 00:34 UT C LC46 1 588 x 601 km x 35°
5 n/a Ikonos 1 27 Apr 1999 at 18:22 UT V SLC6 2 failure: cap failed to eject. This extra mass caused the 4th stage not to reach orbit
6 99051 Ikonos 2 24 Sep 1999 at 18:21 UT V SLC6 2  
7 01043 Picosat
Starshine 3
30 Sep 2001 at 02:40 UT K 1  
Notes: V for Vandenberg, C for Cape Canaveral, K for Kodiak Island, Alaska launches

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