X-ray spacecraft to search for black holes

May 23, 2012 at 5:55 PM
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PASADENA, Calif., May 23 (UPI) -- NASA says final preparations are under way for the launch of a space telescope that will use X-ray vision to search for hidden black holes in the universe.

The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, will launch from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., reported Tuesday.

The observatory will air launch from the belly of Orbital Sciences Corp.'s L-1011 "Stargazer" aircraft aboard the company's Pegasus XL rocket, JPL said.

A successful launch simulation of the Pegasus rocket was conducted last week, officials said.

Technicians at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California are installing the rocket's fairing, or nose cone, around the observatory in preparation for the launch, targeted for 11:30 a.m. EDT June 13.

NuSTAR and its rocket are set to be attached to the Stargazer plane on June 2 and the aircraft will depart California June 5, arriving at the Kwajalein launch site June 6.

The NuSTAR mission is being led by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and managed by JPL.

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