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NuSTAR (the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) is a space-based X-ray telescope that will use a Wolter telescope, a telescope for X-rays using only grazing incidence optics. It is to focus high energy X-rays from astrophysical sources; astrophysics is the branch of astronomy that deals with the physics of the universe, including the physical properties of celestial objects, as well as their interactions and behavior. NASA contracted Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC, though commonly referred to as Orbital), an American company which specialized in the manufacturing and launch of satellites, to launch NuSTAR (mass 772 pounds [350kg]) on a Pegasus XL rocket, a winged space launch vehicle capable of carrying small, unmanned payloads (443 kilograms [980 lbs]) into low Earth orbit, for March 21, 2012.
It had earlier been planned for August 15, 2011, February 3, 2012, March 16, 2012, and March 14, 2012. After a launch meeting on March 15, 2012, the launch was pushed further back to allow time to review software used by the launch vehicle’s flight computer.
The launch was conducted successfully at 16:00:37 on June 13, 2012, about 117 nautical miles south of Kwajalein Atoll, part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). The Pegasus rocket was dropped from the L-1011 ‘Stargazer’ aircraft, registration number N140SC, a modified Lockheed L-1011 TriStar aircraft used by Orbital Sciences Corporation as a mother ship launched pad for Pegasus rockets.