ATHENA ROCKET DOES NOT PLACE IKONOS 1 INTO ORBIT
DENVER, CO, April 28th, 1999 -- A Lockheed Martin-built Athena II rocket which launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on April 27 did not place the IKONOS 1 satellite it was carrying into orbit. Telemetry and other data indicate that the rocket did not achieve sufficient velocity to place the satellite into Earth orbit. The Athena II was launched at 11:22 a.m. PDT from Space Launch Complex 6 (SLC-6) at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space, Sunnyvale, Calif., built the IKONOS 1 satellite for Denver-based Space Imaging. Lockheed Martin Astronautics in Denver built the Athena II rocket.
The Athena rocket was scheduled to place the IKONOS 1 satellite into a circular orbit of 423 miles above the Earth. However, current data analysis indicates that the rocket's Orbit Adjust Module (OAM) fourth stage with the payload fairing and the satellite never achieved orbit. Any components that may have survived reentry would have fallen into the South Pacific Ocean.
A Lockheed Martin-led Anomaly Investigation Team has been formed and the company has begun a thorough investigation to identify the cause of the failure and to determine the appropriate corrective actions. The investigation team is in the process of collecting all data pertaining to the mission. Astronautics is working closely with its Athena suppliers, the U.S. Air Force, Space Imaging, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space and other appropriate entities to determine the root cause of the anomaly and implement corrective actions.
This was the fourth Athena mission since the vehicles became operational in 1997. All three prior flights of Athena I and II launch vehicles have been successful.
Astronautics is one of the operating units of Lockheed Martin's Space & Strategic Missiles Sector headquartered in Bethesda, Md. Astronautics designs, develops, tests and manufactures a variety of advanced spacecraft and other space systems, space launch systems and ground systems. Chief products include planetary spacecraft and other space systems, space launch systems and ground systems.