Press Release

NuSTAR Scheduled for Launch on Pegasus XL Rocket June 13

By SpaceRef Editor
June 6, 2012
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NuSTAR Scheduled for Launch on Pegasus XL Rocket June 13

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) is scheduled for launch Wednesday, June 13, 2012. The four-hour launch window opens at 11:30 a.m. EDT. A Pegasus XL rocket built by Orbital Sciences Corporation will carry the NuSTAR spacecraft into orbit.

The two-year mission will begin from the U.S. Army’s Reagan test site at Kwajalein Atoll, a part of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. After departure of the Orbital L-1011 carrier aircraft, the Pegasus with NuSTAR will be launched over the Pacific at an altitude of 39,000 feet. The launch location will be 117 nautical miles south of Kwajalein at a latitude of 6.75 degrees north of the equator. Spacecraft separation from the Pegasus rocket occurs 13 minutes, 12 seconds after deployment from the L-1011.

NuSTAR is a Small Explorer mission that will allow international astronomers to study the universe in high-energy X-rays. It will be the first focusing hard X-ray telescope to orbit Earth and will dramatically improve sensitivity and imaging capability over previous space missions that have observed this region of the electronic magnetic spectrum.

NuSTAR’s X-ray telescope will undertake a broad range of scientific investigations. For example, NuSTAR will observe the Milky Way to search for the remnants of exploded stars, such as white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes that radiate at high energies. Using the penetrating power of high-energy X-rays, NuSTAR will peer deep into dusty galaxies to find the billion-solar-mass black holes that reside in the galactic centers. Other targets range from galaxy clusters — the largest-known gravitationally bound structures in the Universe — to our own Sun.

This will be the 41st launch of an Orbital Sciences Pegasus rocket.


Monday, June 11: A NuSTAR prelaunch briefing for media will be held at 3 p.m. (noon PDT) at the Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. Participants will include principals associated with the NuSTAR spacecraft, the mission’s science objectives, the launch countdown and the flight of the Pegasus XL. Local-area reporters are invited to attend in person. To do so, contact Robert Sanders at the University of California, Berkeley, at

Media not in attendance and wishing to ask questions will be able to do so using a dial-in interface. For dial-in information, media representatives should email their name, affiliation and telephone number to J.D. Harrington at Live audio of the teleconference is at Graphics presented during the teleconference will be online at shortly before the event starts.


A prelaunch webcast for the NuSTAR mission will be streamed on Tuesday, June 12, at noon. To view the prelaunch webcast and to learn more about NuSTAR, visit the mission home page at:

Wednesday, June 13: Live coverage of the launch of NuSTAR aboard the Pegasus rocket from the Kwajalein Missile Range will be provided via the Web beginning at 10 a.m. (7 a.m. PDT). Launch coverage features live updates as countdown milestones occur, as well as streaming video clips highlighting launch preparations. The live streaming video of the countdown and launch can be found on the NASA home page at with an associated blog at:

Audio only of the launch programming will be available on the “V” circuits that may be dialed directly at 321-867-1220, 1240 or 1260. “Mission Audio” of countdown activities without NASA launch commentary will be carried on 321-867-7135 beginning at 9:15 a.m. (6:15 a.m. PDT).

Coverage will conclude after spacecraft separation from the Pegasus rocket and after the NuSTAR solar arrays have deployed, approximately 20 minutes after launch. A post-launch news release will be issued providing the spacecraft’s state of health within one hour after launch.


Local media may monitor the countdown for the launch of NuSTAR from the viewing room of the NASA Mission Director’s Center located on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Media wishing to do so should be at the KSC press site at 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday, June 13, for transportation to NASA Hangar AE. Media will be returned to the press site after launch. For additional information, contact George Diller at 321-867-2468.

NuSTAR is a Small Explorer mission led by the California Institute of Technology and managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, both in Pasadena, Calif., for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. The spacecraft was built by Orbital Sciences Corp., Dulles, Va. Its instrument was built by a consortium including Caltech; JPL; the University of California, Berkeley; Columbia University, New York; NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.; the Danish Technical University in Denmark; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Calif.; and ATK Aerospace Systems, Goleta, Calif. NuSTAR will be operated by UC Berkeley, with the Italian Space Agency providing its equatorial ground station located at Malindi, Kenya. The mission’s outreach program is based at Sonoma State University, Calif. NASA’s Explorer Program is managed by Goddard. JPL is managed by Caltech for NASA.

Launch management and government oversight for the mission is the responsibility of NASA’s Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., is NASA’s launch service provider of the Pegasus XL rocket. Orbital is also the designer and builder of the NuSTAR spacecraft.

For more information about NuSTAR, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.