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April 15, 2012

OSC L-1011 and the NuSTAR mission

The L-1011 of Orbital Sciences Corporation is scheduled for a new launch of its Pegasus rocket in June 2012. Its payload will be NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) which will search for black holes, map supernova explosions and study the most extreme active galaxies.

Pegasus XL rocket © NASA
The Pegasus XL rocket is fully assembled inside a hangar at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Technicians will tow the rocket to the base's runway a few weeks before launch and bolt it to an L-1011 carrier aircraft, which will fly the Pegasus and NuSTAR payload to Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. 
The L-1011 jumbo jet will drop the rocket about 40,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean, and the three-stage, winged Pegasus will light to propel the 800-pound NuSTAR satellite into a 340-mile-high orbit.
This L-1011 named Stargazer and registered N140SC is one of the few active TriStars left and was specially modified by Marshall Aerospace of Cambridge to carry the air-launched Pegasus rocket.

L-1011 Stargazer © Orbital Sciences Corporation

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