Lockheed Martin returns to rocket fray

Athena 1 rocket launching NASA payload in the late '90s. (Credit: NASA)

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for the commercial space transportation industry, and the news keeps pouring in.  Aerospace industry giant Lockheed Martin announced today that the firm has decided to resurrect its canceled Athena-class of small-scale rockets.  Presumably sparked by the appearance of new competitors Orbital Sciences and SpaceX who are offering similar services, Lockheed has partnered up with heavy-hitter Alliant Techsystems, (a provider for NASA Space Shuttle and Ares rocket motors,) to dust off the Athena rocket plans, upgrade its upper-stage rocket motor, and begin offering flight services to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in 2012.

Competition like this is exactly what the industry needs — Ramp up innovation, drive down prices.  Private space development hasn’t been this active/exciting since the mid ’90s!

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