In Orbital Sciences’ hangar on Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, half of the Pegasus fairing has been reinstalled around NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, as technicians align the other half.
Access to the spacecraft was needed for compatibility testing to verify communication with a tracking station in Hawaii. With the change in the launch timeframe to June, this station will be needed to support launch. After processing of Orbital’s Pegasus XL rocket and the spacecraft is complete, they will be flown on Orbital's L-1011 carrier aircraft from Vandenberg, to the U.S. Army's Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll, part of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. The Pegasus, mated to its NuSTAR payload, will be launched from the carrier aircraft 117 nautical miles south of Kwajalein at latitude 6.75 degrees north of the equator. The high-energy X-ray telescope will conduct a census of black holes, map radioactive material in young supernovae remnants, and study the origins of cosmic rays and the extreme physics around collapsed stars. Launch is scheduled for June 13. For more information, visit http://www.nasa.gov/nustar. Photo credit: U.S. Air Force 30th Space Wing/Aaron Taubman, VAFB