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September 26, 2016 - Athena's Final Flight

Athena’s Final Flight  Fifteen years ago this week, a Lockheed Martin Athena I rocket lifted off from Alaska’s Kodiak Launch Complex carrying the PicoSAT, PCSat, Sapphire, and NASA-sponsored Starshine 3 experimental satellites as part of the Kodiak Star mission. It was the first successful orbital launch from Alaska and the fourth and final launch of an Athena vehicle. The 19-meter-high (62-ft) three-stage Athena was an expendable small-lift vehicle capable of ferrying up to 820 kg (1,810 lbs) to low-Earth orbit. Its successor, the four-stage Athena II, could lift two and a half times that. In all, Athena rockets have lifted off seven times between 1995 and 2001, with only two launch failures. Returning an Athena variant to service has been considered, but no further plans have been announced.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

September 26 - October 2, 2016

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 26

Jupiter in conjunction with Sun

Moon phase Tuesday 27

1814: Daniel Kirkwood born
2007: Dawn spacecraft launched

Moon phase Wednesday 28

Mercury at greatest elongation (18° W)

Moon phase Thursday 29

Mercury 0.7° north of Moon

1977: Salyut 6 space station launched
1988: STS-26 Discovery launched, first shuttle flight since Challenger disaster
2001: First satellite launch from Alaska
2009: MESSENGER makes its third and final flyby of Mercury

Moon phase Friday 30

New Moon 8:12 PM ET

1880: Henry Draper takes first photograph of Orion Nebula
1994: STS-68 Endeavour launched
1995: Daily communication with Pioneer 11 ends
2005Soyuz TMA-7 launched carrying ISS Expedition 12 crew
2009Soyuz TMA-16 launched carrying ISS Expedition 21/22 crew
2016: Rosetta mission ends with controlled descent to surface of Comet 67P

Moon phase Saturday 1

1897: 40-inch refractor dedicated at Yerkes Observatory
1958: NASA founded
1962: 300-foot radio telescope at Green Bank goes into operation
2010: Chang’e-2 lunar spacecraft launched

Moon phase Sunday 2

Rosh Hashanah begins at sunset

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