Friday, June 08, 2012

NuSTAR's June 13th Launch Quickly Approaching

The above image shows the L-100 Stargazer aircraft landing June 6th on Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. NuSTAR can be seen mounted to the belly of Stargazer and strapped to a Pegasus XL rocket. On June 13th, NuSTAR will be launched into Earth orbit. Image Credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation

Preparations are moving along for the launch of NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR). On 4th, NuSTAR was perched atop its Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC) Pegasus XL rocket and strapped to OSC's L-1011 Stargazer launch aircraft. On June 5th, Stargazer departed Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California and, on June 6th, reached the launch point of Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific Ocean.

NuSTAR will be the first space telescope to create sharp images of X-rays with high energies, similar to those used by doctors and dentists. It will conduct a census for black holes, map radioactive material in young supernovae remnants, and study the origins of cosmic rays and extreme physics around collapsed stars.

On Monday, June 11th at 3 PM EDT (noon PDT), NASA will host a news teleconference to discuss the June 13th launch. The panelists include:

— Omar Baez, NASA launch director, Kennedy Space Center, Florida

— Fiona Harrison, NuSTAR principal investigator, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California

— William Craig, NuSTAR instrument manager, University of California at Berkeley (UC Berkeley)

— Grace Baird, NuSTAR bus chief engineer, Orbital Sciences Corporation, Dulles, Virginia

The news teleconference will take place at the Space Sciences Laboratory at UC Berkeley. Graphics presented during the teleconference will be online shortly before the event begins, at . Live audio of the teleconference will be available at .

On June 13th, about an hour before launch, Stargazer will lift off from the island and ascend to launch altitude. Stargazer will then drop NuSTAR and its Pegasus XL rocket over the Pacific. The Pegasus XL will ignite, carrying NuSTAR to its final orbit above Earth's equator. Launch coverage and commentary will be broadcast online, beginning 90 minutes before launch, at .

And now, the mission particulars...

NuSTAR is a Small Explorer mission led by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, also in Pasadena, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The spacecraft was built by Orbital Sciences Corporation, Dulles, Virginia. Its instrument was built by a consortium including Caltech; JPL; the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkley); Columbia University, New York; NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland; the Danish Technical University in Denmark; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, California; and ATK Aerospace Systems, Goleta, California. NuSTAR will be operated by UC Berkeley, with the Italian Space Agency providing its equatorial ground station located at Malindi, Kenya. The mission's outreach program is based at Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, California. NASA's Explorer Program is managed by Goddard. JPL is managed by Caltech for NASA.

The launch management and government oversight for the mission is the responsibility of NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. For more information on the NuSTAR mission, visit and .


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