Orbital Sciences successfully launches NuSTAR X-ray observatory

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An Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL launch vehicle has successfully launched NASA's nuclear spectroscopic telescope array (NuSTAR) into low Earth orbit.

After a half-hour delay, Orbital Sciences' modified Lockheed L-1011 took off from Kwajalein Island in the remote Pacific Ocean and flew south to the launch point, where the winged spacecraft was dropped and the first of three stages fired. The spacecraft is reportedly in orbit and functioning normally.

The flight marks the first Pegasus launch since the 2008 launch of NASA's IBEX satellite. The programme has only one other launch on order, the interface region imaging spectrograph (IRIS), another NASA mission scheduled for 2013.

The launch was delayed from March, 2012 for additional testing on the launch vehicle's flight computer.

NuSTAR is designed to examine X-ray emissions.

 c: orbital sciences

 ©Orbital Sciences