Emily Lakdawalla • Jun 13, 2012
Successful launch for NuSTAR on a Pegasus XL
NuSTAR, the most sensitive X-ray telescope ever developed, launched successfully at 16:00 UT. This was a fun launch to watch, because the launch vehicle was a Pegasus XL air-launched rocket, dropped like a bomb from open bay doors of an L-1011 airplane. Jason Major caught the few seconds of launch video on YouTube. The rocket drops, then, a few seconds later, the screen goes orange as the first stage ignites.
Everything about the launch was "nominal" -- that word being the highest of all possible praise from a rocketeer. Once the third stage placed NuSTAR in its 630-kilometer-altitude orbit, the spacecraft established communication with Earth and then opened its five solar panels. Deployment of the 10-meter-long mast that separates the telescope and the X-ray detectors will happen next week. Read more about the mission here.
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