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June 13, 2012

J.D. Harrington 
Headquarters, Washington 

Whitney Clavin 
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. 

RELEASE: 12-196


WASHINGTON -- NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) 
launched into the morning skies over the central Pacific Ocean at 
noon EDT (9 a.m. PDT) Wednesday, beginning its mission to unveil 
secrets of buried black holes and other exotic objects. 

"We all eagerly await the launch of this novel X-ray observatory," 
said Paul Hertz, NASA's Astrophysics Division Director. "With its 
unprecedented spatial and spectral resolution to the previously 
poorly explored hard X-ray region of the electromagnetic spectrum, 
NuSTAR will open a new window on the universe and will provide 
complementary data to NASA's larger missions including Fermi, 
Chandra, Hubble and Spitzer." 

NuSTAR will use a unique set of eyes to see the highest energy X-ray 
light from the cosmos. The observatory can see through gas and dust 
to reveal black holes lurking in our Milky Way galaxy, as well as 
those hidden in the hearts of faraway galaxies. 

"NuSTAR will help us find the most elusive and most energetic black 
holes, to help us understand the structure of the universe," said 
Fiona Harrison, the mission's principal investigator at the 
California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. 

The observatory began its journey aboard the L-1011 "Stargazer" 
aircraft, operated by Orbital Sciences Corporation, Dulles, Va. 
NuSTAR was perched atop Orbital's Pegasus XL rocket, both of which 
were strapped to the belly of the Stargazer plane. The plane left 
Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific Ocean one hour before launch. 
At 12:00:35 p.m. EDT (9:00:35 a.m. PDT), the rocket dropped, 
free-falling for five seconds before firing its first-stage motor. 

About 13 minutes after the rocket dropped, NuSTAR separated from the 
rocket, reaching its final low Earth orbit. The first signal from the 
spacecraft was received at 12:14 p.m. EDT (9:14 a.m. PDT) through 
NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System. 

"NuSTAR spread its solar panels to charge the spacecraft battery and 
then reported back to Earth of its good health," said Yunjin Kim, the 
mission's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 
Pasadena, Calif. "We are checking out the spacecraft now and are 
excited to tune into the high-energy X-ray sky." 

The mission's unique telescope design includes a 33-foot (10-meter) 
mast, which was folded up in a small canister during launch. In about 
seven days, engineers will command the mast to extend, enabling the 
telescope to focus properly. About 23 days later, science operations 
are scheduled to begin. 

In addition to black holes and their powerful jets, NuSTAR will study 
a host of high-energy objects in our universe, including the remains 
of exploded stars; compact, dead stars; and clusters of galaxies. The 
mission's observations, in coordination with other telescopes such as 
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, which detects lower-energy X-rays, 
will help solve fundamental cosmic mysteries. NuSTAR also will study 
our sun's fiery atmosphere, looking for clues as to how it is heated. 

NuSTAR is a Small Explorer mission led by the California Institute of 
Technology in Pasadena and managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion 
Laboratory, also in Pasadena, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate 
in Washington. The spacecraft was built by Orbital Sciences 
Corporation, 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, 
Greenbelt, Md.; the Danish Technical University in Denmark; Lawrence 
Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, 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, Rohnert Park, 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. 

For more information about NuSTAR, visit: 



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