NuSTAR mated to its rocket

February 20, 2012 By Whitney Clavin
Artist's concept of NuSTAR on orbit. NuSTAR has a 10-m (30') mast that deploys after launch to separate the optics modules (right) from the detectors in the focal plane (left). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) is being mated, or attached, to its Pegasus XL rocket today at Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California.

The mission's launch is now scheduled for no earlier than March 21 to allow the team an additional week to complete necessary engineering reviews. After the reviews, the team will begin final preparations for the rocket's delivery to the launch site at Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific.

NuSTAR will probe the hottest, densest and most energetic objects in space, including black holes and the remnants of exploded stars. It will be the first space telescope to capture sharp images in high-energy X-rays, giving astronomers a new tool for understanding the extreme side of our universe.

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.

Explore further: Small Explorer Mission to Set Solar System Boundaries

More information: For more information, visit www.nasa.gov/nustar and www.nustar.caltech.edu/ .

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