The Athena was an American space shuttle sent by NASA to Minerva in 1989 to make contact with the Minervans. The ship, named for the same ancient Greek goddess as the planet, was crewed by three married couples: Emmett and Louise Bragg, Frank and Pat Marquard, and Irv and Sarah Levitt. Emmett Bragg was the vessel's commander.
The ship landed in the Omalo domain-master Reatur's domain, near the site of the landing of the original Viking probe. The crew made contact with Reatur and developed good relations with him, helping his males repulse a Soviet-supported Skarmer invasion. The ship returned to Earth shortly afterward.