In the airlock of processing facility 1555 at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California, preparations are under way to remove the environmentally controlled shipping container from around NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR).
The spacecraft arrived at VAFB Jan. 27 after a cross-country trip which began from Orbital Sciences' manufacturing plant in Dulles, Va., on Jan. 24. Next, NuSTAR will be transferred from the airlock into the processing hangar, joining the Pegasus XL rocket that is set to carry it to space. After checkout and other processing activities are complete, the spacecraft will be integrated with the Pegasus in mid-February and encapsulation in the vehicle fairing will follow. The rocket and spacecraft then will be flown on Orbital's L-1011 carrier aircraft to the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site at the Pacific Ocean's Kwajalein Atoll for launch in March. The high-energy X-ray telescope will conduct a census for 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