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Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Nu-STAR awaaaay.........

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A space addict cannot go to bed without posting something on the launch of  a small, but groundbreaking, spaceship: So here's a video of the Pegasus rocket carrying the Nu-STAR X-ray space telescope [1] into orbit: 

Video above: The launch of the groundbreaking Nu-STAR space telescope, good luck to her team for the next stage of this groundbreaking mission! This video follows the craft all the way into orbit  - there's not actually much to see beyond the initial launch, but watching the whole thing gives you a feeling of just how complex, just how much effort, goes into even a small space launch like this one. Video courtesy of NASA.

What you're seeing here is the small Pegasus rocket [2] being launched from beneath the aircraft carrying it, with Nu-STAR in it's nose. Pegasus launches done this way for a few reasons:
1: It makes the launch position, and therefore the final orbit, of the spacecraft is easy to control.
2: The rocket saves fuel by being carried above much of the Earths atmosphere (imagine the headwind you'd feel at 11,400 miles per hour!).
3: You can just fly the rocket out to an unpopulated area to launch, so there's no risk if clobbering someone if the cutting edge rocket decides to just fall out of the sky. In this case the plane flew out over the Pacific ocean to perform the launch.

OK, the video above doesn't give you much visually on the launch. So here's a computer simulation of Pegasus going into space. There's a bit more to see, some music, and  lots of cool whooshing whirring, and 'bang' noises. I don't think the noises are accurate, especially the satellite going 'whirrr' at the end, but I watched Star Trek last night and that has whooshing noises in the vacuum of space, so I can't grumble too much.

Video above: A simulation of Pegasus rocket launch. Video courtesy of misterp0p0 on youtube. Nice animation misterp0p0!

The last word on Nu-Star was that it had achieved orbit, and all systems were nominal. The next big hurdle is the unfurling of the ten meter long boom, with the X-ray optic on the end.

So good luck to the Nu-STAR team, and well done on their success so far!

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