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Faulty Athena Shroud Ruins Ikonos 1 Launch
The failed separation of a payload shroud kept the commercial world's first 1-meter-resolution Earth-imaging satellite from reaching orbit last week and raises questions about the business plan for Lockheed Martin Astronautics' Athena small launcher program.
Telemetry and flight data analysis indicate that the $25-million Athena II failed to achieve sufficient velocity to place Space Imaging's Ikonos 1 satellite into orbit. The Apr. 27 launch was from Vandenberg AFB, Calif.