L-1011 takes to the skies with Pegasus rocket

When a rocket leaves Vandenberg Air Force Base, it usually involves fire, smoke and a ground-shaking roar. But a Pegasus XL rocket departed the California base at 12:58 p.m. local time Tuesday strapped to the belly of its L-1011 carrier jet.

Pegasus is destined for a remote launch site halfway between Hawaii and Australia where the booster will be air-launched next Wednesday to place a NASA X-ray telescope into space.

Vandenberg is the home port for Pegasus, the place where the rocket was assembled, tested and fitted with the NuSTAR spacecraft cargo. This two-day ferryflight will take the vehicle to the Kwajalein Atoll for launch into an equatorial orbit that the satellite desires.

See our Mission Status Center for the latest news on the launch.

Photo credit: Justin Ray/Spaceflight Now

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