Orbital Sciences’ Pegasus XL rocket, in the background, rests outside the environmental enclosure in Orbital’s hangar on Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Inside the enclosure, half of the Pegasus fairing has been removed from around NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR.
Access to the spacecraft is 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 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