Athena Investigation Points to Payload Fairing
DENVER, CO, April 29th, 1999 -- The Lockheed Martin Astronautics Anomaly Investigation Team has determined that, based on telemetry and flight data analysis, the Athena II's payload fairing did not separate properly. As a result of carrying the extra weight of the payload fairing, the rocket did not achieve sufficient velocity to place the IKONOS 1 satellite into Earth orbit. The aluminum-lithium payload fairing is used to protect the satellite from aerodynamic friction during the early phases of flight and is designed to separate and fall away from the rocket after it has passed through the atmosphere.
The Lockheed Martin Anomaly Investigation Team has determined that the Thiokol Castor 120Â® first and second stage solid rocket motors, the Pratt and Whitney OrbusÂ® 21D third stage solid propulsion system and the Orbit Adjust Module propulsion system (which includes the equipment section structure, attitude control system provided by Primex Technologies, and avionics) have been ruled out as possible causes of the failure.
Lockheed Martin is continuing its investigation to determine why the payload fairing did not separate