There’s some news on the small launcher to LEO market as covered by the Wall Street Journal’s Andy Pazstor in, Alliant, Lockheed Team for Smaller Satellite Launches and FlightGlobal’s blogger at Hyperbola, Rob Coppinger in, Lockheed ATK announce Falcon 1 competitor.
Compared to the Falcon 1e, which has a LEO payload capability of 1,010 kg, the new two-stage Athena Ic and three-stage Athena IIc , an upgraded and modernized rocket based on the proven Athena I and II, will have a payload capability of up to 1,712 kg. According to the press release from LockMart and ATK, the new Athena Ic and Athena IIc should be open for business by 2012.
Interestingly, the Athena II, which launched the Lunar Prospector mission in 1998, is the only commercially developed vehicle to fly a lunar mission. The Athena I/II launch record is 7-0.