Inside an environmental enclosure at Vandenberg Air Force Base's processing facility in California, technicians complete the final steps in mating NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, and its Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL rocket following the removal of a section of the C-plate from the interface juncture. The C-plate protected the spacecraft during mating operations. The uniting of the spacecraft with the rocket is a major milestone in prelaunch preparations.
After processing of the rocket and spacecraft are complete, they will be flown on Orbital's L-1011 carrier aircraft from Vandenberg to the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on the Pacific Ocean’s Kwajalein Atoll for launch. 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. For more information, visit http://www.nasa.gov/nustar. Photo credit: NASA/Randy Beaudoin, VAFB