Lunar Prospector

Launch Time
Wed Jan 07, 1998 02:28 UTC

First flight of Athena II, and first flight of Athena from Cape Canaveral.


Athena II
Image Credit: NASA
Status: Retired
Liftoff Thrust: 1,900 kN
Payload to GTO: 593 kg
Stages: 4
Rocket Height: 28.2 m

Mission Details

Lunar Prospector

Lunar Prospector was a small spin stabilized lunar orbiter. Using its Gamma Ray Spectrometer (GRS), it collected a large amount of scientific data that helps researchers understand the chemical composition of the lunar surface.

The Lunar Prospector was launched with additional Trans-Lunar-Injection-Stage (TLIS). TLIS consisted of an ATK build spin stabilized Star-Stage-3700S powered by a Star-37FM motor.

Some of the spacecraft's scientific instruments, also measured the Moon's magnetic and gravitational fields, enhancing our current understanding as well as potentially enabling future mission scientists to design more fuel-efficient journeys to the Moon. In addition, Prospector will carry a special instrument, called an Alpha Particle Spectrometer (APS), that will sniff out small quantities of gases that leak out from the lunar interior.

A Magnetometer (MAG) and the Doppler Gravity Experiment (DGE) complemented the scientific payload. After the end of its mission the spacecraft was crashed on the lunar surface.

Lunar Prospector carried also a small capsule by Celestis called Celestis-02 with the ashes of the late Gene Shoemaker.

Payloads: 1
Total Mass: 295.0 kg
Low Earth Orbit


SLC-46, Cape Canaveral SFS, Florida, USA



1st orbital launch attempt

Athena II

1st mission
1st mission of 1998
1st successful mission