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Default NuSTAR atop Pegasus XL, June 13, 2012
by IronRain 04-04-2012, 07:35 AM

The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array is an Explorer mission that will allow astronomers to study the universe in high energy X-rays. Launching in 2012, NuSTAR will be the first focusing hard X-ray telescope to orbit Earth and is expected to greatly exceed the performance of the largest ground-based observatories that have observed this region of the electromagnetic spectrum. NuSTAR will also complement astrophysics missions that explore the cosmos in other regions of the spectrum.

X-ray telescopes such as Chandra and XMM-Newton have observed the X-ray universe at low X-ray energy levels. By focusing higher energy X-rays, NuSTAR will start to answer several fundamental questions about the Universe including:
How are black holes distributed through the cosmos?
How were heavy elements forged in the explosions of massive stars?
What powers the most extreme active galaxies?

NuSTAR's primary science objectives include:
Conducting a census for black holes on all scales using wide-field surveys of extragalactic fields and the Galactic center.
Mapping radioactive material in young supernova remnants; Studying the birth of the elements and to understand how stars explode.
Observing relativistic jets found in the most extreme active galaxies and to understand what powers giant cosmic accelerators.

NuSTAR will also study the origin of cosmic rays and the extreme physics around collapsed stars while responding to targets of opportunity including supernovae and gamma-ray bursts. NuSTAR will perform follow-up observations to discoveries made by Chandra and Spitzer, and will team with Fermi, making simultaneous observations which will greatly enhancing Fermi's science return.

Launch time is still TBD. It was due to launch in March but was grounded because there were some concerns with the new Pegasus XL computer + software.


Fully integrated Pegasus XL with NuSTAR


Fairing inspections


Different parts


Final testing in December 2011


Artists concept of NuSTAR in orbit


Last edited by Galactic Penguin SST; 06-13-2012 at 04:31 PM.
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Old 04-04-2012, 07:40 AM   #2
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Spaceflight Now: Launch of NASA X-ray telescope targeted for June

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NASA's NuSTAR X-ray astrophysics observatory, grounded in March by concerns with its Pegasus rocket, will have an opportunity to launch in June from a remote Pacific military base, space agency officials said Tuesday.

Engineering reviews of the air-launched Orbital Sciences Corp. Pegasus rocket continue, according to NASA, with officials focusing on software to be used by a new computer flying on the Pegasus for the first time.

The reviews were not finished in time for the $165 million mission to be ready before the end of a launch window in late March.

"We're still working on the flight software program," said George Diller, a spokesperson at the Kennedy Space Center.

The clamshell-like nose cone on the Pegasus rocket has been cleared for launch. Engineers were studying commonality between the Pegasus payload fairing and the shroud on the ground-launched Taurus rocket, another Orbital Sciences vehicle, which failed due to fairing separation problems on back-to-back flights in 2009 and 2011.

The Pegasus booster has flown 40 times, and the upcoming launch will mark the 25th mission of the Pegasus XL configuration, which features more powerful rocket motors than earlier versions.

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Old 05-22-2012, 06:58 PM   #3
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NASA / NASA JPL:
NASA's NuSTAR Gearing up For Launch

May 22, 2012

Final pre-launch preparations are underway for NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR. The mission, which will use X-ray vision to hunt for hidden black holes, is scheduled to launch no earlier than June 13 from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The observatory will launch from the belly of Orbital Sciences Corporation's L-1011 "Stargazer" aircraft aboard the company's Pegasus rocket.

Technicians at Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California are busy installing the rocket's fairing, or nose cone, around the observatory. A flight computer software evaluation is also nearing completion and should be finished before the Flight Readiness Review, which is scheduled for June 1. A successful launch simulation of the Orbital Sciences' Pegasus XL rocket was conducted last week.

The mission plan is for NuSTAR and its rocket to be attached to the Stargazer plane on June 2. The aircraft will depart California on June 5 and arrive at the Kwajalein launch site on June 6. The launch of NuSTAR from the plane is targeted for 8:30 a.m. PDT (11:30 a.m. EDT) on June 13.

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Old 05-24-2012, 06:50 PM   #4
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NASA JPL / NASA (Feature):
MEDIA ADVISORY : M12-096
NASA To Hold News Conference About Upcoming NuSTAR Launch


May 24, 2012

WASHINGTON -- NASA will hold a news conference on Wednesday, May 30 at 1 p.m. EDT to discuss the upcoming launch of the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), a mission to hunt for black holes. The event will be held in the James E. Webb Auditorium at NASA Headquarters located at 300 E St. SW in Washington.

The event will be broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed on the agency's website.

NuSTAR will observe some of the hottest, densest and most energetic objects in the universe, including black holes, their high-speed particle jets, ultra-dense neutron stars, supernova remnants and our sun. It will observe high-energy X-rays with much greater sensitivity and clarity than any mission flown to date. Among its several goals, NuSTAR will address the puzzle of how black holes and galaxies evolve together over time.

NuSTAR is scheduled to launch no earlier than 11:30 a.m. EDT on June 13 from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The spacecraft will lift off on an Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL launch vehicle, released from an aircraft flying south of Kwajalein.

News conference participants are:
  • Paul Hertz, Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington
  • Fiona Harrison, NuSTAR principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif.
  • Daniel Stern, NuSTAR project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena
  • Yunjin Kim, NuSTAR project manager at JPL

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Old 05-29-2012, 09:34 PM   #5
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SPACE.com: NASA to Discuss New Black-Hole Hunting Satellite Wednesday
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Old 05-30-2012, 07:02 PM   #6
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NASA / NASA JPL:
NASA Preparing to Launch its Newest X-Ray Eyes

May 30, 2012

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, is being prepared for the final journey to its launch pad on Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific Ocean. The mission will study everything from massive black holes to our own sun. It is scheduled to launch no earlier than June 13.

"We will see the hottest, densest and most energetic objects with a fundamentally new, high-energy X-ray telescope that can obtain much deeper and crisper images than before," said Fiona Harrison, the NuSTAR principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., who first conceived of the mission 20 years ago.

Click on images for details
NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has a complex set of mirrors, or optics, that will help it see high-energy X-ray light in greater detail than ever before. These images show different views of one of two optic units onboard NuSTAR, each consisting of 133 nested cylindrical mirror shells as thin as a fingernail. The mirrors are arranged in this way in order to focus as much X-ray light as possible.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
This image comparison demonstrates NuSTAR's improved ability to focus high-energy X-ray light into sharp images. The image on the left, taken by the European Space Agency's INTEGRAL satellite, shows high-energy X-rays from galaxies beyond our own. The light is "unresolved," meaning that individual objects creating the light -- in particular, the active supermassive black holes -- cannot be distinguished.
Image credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech


The observatory is perched atop an Orbital Sciences Corporation Pegasus XL rocket. If the mission passes its Flight Readiness Review on June 1, the rocket will be strapped to the bottom of an aircraft, the L-1011 Stargazer, also operated by Orbital, on June 2. The Stargazer is scheduled to fly from Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California to Kwajalein on June 5 to 6.

After taking off on launch day, the Stargazer will drop the rocket around 8:30 a.m. PDT (11:30 a.m. EDT). The rocket will then ignite and carry NuSTAR to a low orbit around Earth.

"NuSTAR uses several innovations for its unprecedented imaging capability and was made possible by many partners," said Yunjin Kim, the project manager for the mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "We're all really excited to see the fruition of our work begin its mission in space."

NuSTAR will be the first space telescope to create focused images of cosmic X-rays with the highest energies. These are the same types of X-rays that doctors use to see your bones and airports use to scan your bags. The telescope will have more than 10 times the resolution and more than 100 times the sensitivity of its predecessors while operating in a similar energy range.

The mission will work with other telescopes in space now, including NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, which observes lower-energy X-rays. Together, they will provide a more complete picture of the most energetic and exotic objects in space, such as black holes, dead stars and jets traveling near the speed of light.

"NuSTAR truly demonstrates the value that NASA's research and development programs provide in advancing the nation's science agenda," said Paul Hertz, NASA's Astrophysics Division director. "Taking just over four years from receiving the project go-ahead to launch, this low-cost Explorer mission will use new mirror and detector technology that was developed in NASA's basic research program and tested in NASA's scientific ballooning program. The result of these modest investments is a small space telescope that will provide world-class science in an important but relatively unexplored band of the electromagnetic spectrum."

NuSTAR will study black holes that are big and small, far and near, answering questions about the formation and physics behind these wonders of the cosmos. The observatory will also investigate how exploding stars forge the elements that make up planets and people, and it will even study our own sun's atmosphere.

The observatory is able to focus the high-energy X-ray light into sharp images because of a complex, innovative telescope design. High-energy light is difficult to focus because it only reflects off mirrors when hitting at nearly parallel angles. NuSTAR solves this problem with nested shells of mirrors. It has the most nested shells ever used in a space telescope: 133 in each of two optic units. The mirrors were molded from ultra-thin glass similar to that found in laptop screens and glazed with even thinner layers of reflective coating.

The telescope also consists of state-of-the-art detectors and a lengthy 33-foot (10-meter) mast, which connects the detectors to the nested mirrors, providing the long distance required to focus the X-rays. This mast is folded up into a canister small enough to fit atop the Pegasus launch vehicle. It will unfurl about seven days after launch. About 23 days later, science operations will begin.

{...}







NASA Press Release: RELEASE : 12-177 - NASA Preparing to Launch Its Newest X-ray Eyes

SPACE.com: NASA to Hunt Black Holes with New Space Telescope

Space News: NASA NuSTAR Telescope Set for June 13 Launch
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Old 06-04-2012, 11:43 PM   #7
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NASA / NASA JPL:
NuSTAR Strapped to its Plane

June 04, 2012

NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, is now perched atop its Pegasus XL rocket, strapped to the plane that will carry the mission to an airborne launch. Launch is scheduled for June 13, no earlier than 8:30 a.m. PDT (11:30 a.m. EDT).

Click on image for details
his photo shows the Orbital Sciences Corporation Pegasus XL rocket with the NuSTAR spacecraft after attachment to the L-1011 carrier aircraft known as "Stargazer."
Image credit: NASA/Randy Beaudoin, VAFB


The plane -- the L-1011 "Stargazer" aircraft -- is now at Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California. It is scheduled to fly to Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific Ocean from June 5 to 6. About an hour before launch, the plane will lift off from the island, and drop NuSTAR and its rocket over the ocean. The rocket will then ignite, carrying NuSTAR to its final orbit around Earth's equator.

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.

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Old 06-04-2012, 11:56 PM   #8
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Looks like a civilian aircraft armed with a huge cruise missle

Curious to see if that's going to work. That launch method could be invaluable for countries that don't have a spaceport or can't launch eastwards.
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Old 06-05-2012, 12:05 AM   #9
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They have been launching like that for quite a long time now.
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Old 06-05-2012, 12:15 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by N_Molson View Post
 Looks like a civilian aircraft armed with a huge cruise missle

Curious to see if that's going to work. That launch method could be invaluable for countries that don't have a spaceport or can't launch eastwards.
Here's a video of another Pegasus XL launch.

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Old 06-05-2012, 12:18 AM   #11
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Considering the launch method, NuSTAR isn't exactly 'atop' its launch vehicle.
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Old 06-05-2012, 01:39 AM   #12
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Quote:
Here's a video of another Pegasus XL launch.
Hehehe better check there is no other plane ahead
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Old 06-05-2012, 10:13 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Izack View Post
 Considering the launch method, NuSTAR isn't exactly 'atop' its launch vehicle.
It's still atop Pegasus XL rocket, but only on bottom of the plane carrying it.
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Old 06-06-2012, 02:19 PM   #14
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NASA: NuSTAR to Open X-ray Eyes on Universe

Spaceflight Now:
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Old 06-06-2012, 03:01 PM   #15
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I worked on an instrument for this spacecraft while interning at NASA JPL in 2009. At the time, NuSTAR was in some programmatic trouble and it is so very nice to see it finally get off the ground.

GO NuSTAR!
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