NuSTAR Cleared for June 13 Launch

NuSTAR Cleared for June 13 Launch

NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) spacecraft and its Pegasus rocket successfully completed their June 1 Flight Readiness Review (FRR).  The spacecraft is due to be launched on June 13 from Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific.

NASA held a press conference last week to discuss NuSTAR’s status and scientific objectives, but the mission needed to pass the June 1 FRR before committing to the June 13 launch date.   Kennedy Space Center (@NASAKennedy) tweeted on June 1 that managers had given a go-ahead for the June 13 launch, though NASA’s NuSTAR website still was not updated as of June 3.

Fiona Harrison of CalTech is NuSTAR’s principal investigator.  The spacecraft is an x-ray telescope that will search for black holes.

Launch time is 11:30 am EDT on June 13.  NuSTAR will be launched by a Pegasus rocket, which is dropped from a carrier aircraft, so in this case “launch” is the time the L-1011 aircraft takes off from Kwajalein Atoll.  Kwajalein, in the Marshall Islands, is the site of a U.S. missile test range.   NuSTAR is departing from there because it is headed to an equatorial orbit. 

NuSTAR’s original launch date of March 22 had to be postponed because further tests were needed to validate a new flight computer on the Pegasus rocket.  

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