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.
NuSTAR’s predecessor, the High Energy Focusing Telescope (HEFT), was a balloon-borne version that carried telescopes and detectors constructed using similar technologies. In February 2003, NASA issued an Explorer Program Announcement of Opportunity. In response, NuSTAR was submitted to NASA in May, as one of the 36 mission proposals vying to be the tenth and eleventh Small Explorer missions. In November, NASA selected NuSTAR and four other proposals for a five-month implementation feasibility study.
In January 2005, NASA selected NuSTAR for flight pending a one-year feasibility study. The program was cancelled in February 2006 as a result of cuts to science in NASA’s 2006 budget, On September 21, 2007, it was announced that the program has been restarted, with an expected launch in August 2011, though this was later delayed to June 2012.
The principal investigator is Fiona Harrison of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Other major partners include the: Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States; University of California at Berkeley (also referred to as UC Berkeley, California, or simply Cal), a public research university located in Berkeley, California, United States; Danish Technical University (DTU), a university just north of Copenhagen, Denmark; Columbia University in the City of New York, commonly referred to as Columbia University, an American private Ivy League research university located in New York City, New York, United States; Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), a major space research laboratory established on May 1, 1959 as NASA’s first space flight center; Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto; University of California, Santa Cruz, also known as UC Santa Cruz or UCSC, a public, collegiate university (one of ten campuses in the University of California); Sonoma State University, also known as SSU, Sonoma State, and Sonoma, a public university which is part of the California State University (CSU) system; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), founded by the University of California in 1952; and the Italian Space Agency (ASI), a government agency established in 1988 to fund, regulate and coordinate space exploration activities in Italy.
NuSTAR’s major industrial partners include Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC, though commonly referred to as Orbital), an American company which specialized in the manufacturing and launch of satellites, and Alliant Techsystems Inc., most commonly known by its ticker symbol, NYSE: ATK, one of the largest aerospace and defense companies in the United States with more than 18,000 employees in 22 states, Puerto Rico and internationally, and 2010 revenues in excess of an estimated US$4.8 billion; the one referred is the one located at Goleta, a city in southern Santa Barbara, California, USA.