June 13th, 2012
10:34 AM ET

Telescope launches to explore black holes

A powerful telescope array is headed for space today. Its starting point wasn't a Cape Canaveral launch pad, but rather a plane that took off from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands in the central Pacific Ocean.

NuSTAR began its launch process today just after 12 p.m. EST. NuSTAR stands for Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array.

NuSTAR, with its specialized "X-ray eyes," has 10 times the resolution and 100 times the sensitivity of similar telescopes. It has the capability to study black holes and explore how exploding stars form the elements from which the universe is composed.

This was a plane-assisted launch, which is less expensive than the dramatic liftoffs from the ground. From the air, less fuel is required to help the goods escape Earth's gravitational pull.

An Orbital Science Corporation L-1011 "Stargazer" plane flew over the Pacific Ocean carrying a Pegasus XL rocket. The rocket dropped from the plane and then ignited and propelled the telescope array. Here's a video from NASA of a previous Pegasus launch.

The rocket's first-stage motor burned for 70 seconds before dropping away, and then the second-stage motor started burning. Meanwhile, the nose cone with NuSTAR in it released.

The telescope array separated from the rocket's third stage about 13 minutes after being released from the plane. After separation and successful entrance into orbit, NuSTAR's solar arrays were deployed.

In about a week the NuSTAR will deploy a 33-foot boom, which will allow for X-ray light to be focused into sharp images. The boom is long because the mirrors and the detectors need to be far apart in order to focus X-ray light - sort of like if a face and eyeglasses were separated by a few feet.

The science operational stuff will start about 30 days after NuSTAR launches, NASA said.

The next mission on Pegasus will be the IRIS mission, scheduled for the early part of 2013. Scientists hope IRIS will provide insights into the workings of the sun.

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Filed under: Hardware in Orbit • In Space
soundoff (255 Responses)
  1. waso

    Maybe you needed a microscope instead ?

    June 14, 2012 at 2:46 am |
  2. Art Dawal

    All of you. What if...a black hole is sitting right near earth and just days or months its going to eat Earth. Would it be a wild ride? I think it's worse than meteors.

    June 14, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • Russ

      Black holes are formed from by the death of stars, and also at the center of galaxies where gravity and energy become unimaginable. The gravity distorts space around them and will suck in everything. Not even light can escape. A planet the distance of earth from the black hole would be sucked in, and compressed to a miniscule size. Life could not exist anywhere near a black hole.

      June 14, 2012 at 1:16 am |
      • waso

        But after entering the black hole we will exit through a white hole and, Voila !, be in another universe.

        June 14, 2012 at 2:07 am |
  3. MandoZink

    By the way, if you think we spend too much on space, read this:
    Several months ago, the military offered NASA two "obsolete" unused spy satellites. NASA officials were delighted. Both of these "obsolete" telescopes had much higher quality optics than the Hubble.

    We give the military 40 times the budget that NASA gets and they can dump better obsolete equipment than NASA has funds to build.

    June 13, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
  4. Yo there

    Please, politics, here? Hey, let's be civil and focus on the topic of that massively avaricious chasm where all matter of consequence falls to its utter destruction...hmm, I guess that DOES sound like politics!

    June 13, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
  5. Anna

    He was joking I am sure. It was kinda funny. On a side note... a week to get there?

    June 13, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  6. rene manzano

    A satellite launched from a plane?. It means that USA could have launched a satellite easily some years before the USRR. B52 exist from 1955.

    June 13, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • Yo there

      What about 18th century hot air balloons? Could have had that satellite up way earlier! Cheaper too!

      June 13, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • 1st Sgt-TopKick

      Actually, No, that's not true. If you review rocket history, you'll find that GUIDED rocketry wasn't reliable (or safe) until the 1960's and even then there were often glitches. The electronics used in rockets launched from the L-1011 or B-52 is now miniaturized and solid-state whereas vacuum tubes were still widely in use when the B-52 was first flown. Today there are smaller, faster and more powerful computers to do experimentation, control, tracking and analysis which didn't exist back in the day. The technology and experience at the time of the B-52 development were light years behind the technology and experience available in the 1990's when horizontal rocket launches became feasible and economical.

      July 1, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  7. johnqpublic

    this is not an instrument for detecting imaginary deities. it is an instrument of science.

    June 13, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
  8. Bpigz

    To every ignoramus on this thread posting things such as, "what a waste of money!", get on YouTube and watch a few videos with Neil DeGrasse Tyson explaining how important space exploration is. I find it unbelievable that people, in a period of incredible scientific advancement, can be so comfortable in their ignorance. Go crawl back into your cave.

    June 13, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • David Norman

      Specifically his, "Fascinating disturbing thought".

      June 13, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Yo there

      May not work, reception may be poor in caves.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • MandoZink

      Absolutely! Neil deGrasse Tyson is a wonder to listen to. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

      June 13, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
  9. Willythekorn

    Sorry to be a vocabulary queen, but "sort of like"? Really! Does this usage reflect CNN's estimate of its audience's reading ability, or is it a reflection of the abilities of the writer? What's wrong with "similar to"?

    June 13, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Yo There

      Willy, "sort of like" IS kinda like "similar to" haha.

      June 13, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • BillG

      Quite so. Science for the challenged. Would think CNN could do better.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
      • Gabriel

        "science for the challenged" should became new internet meme.

        you sir, win +2 internets.

        June 14, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • LHandRBrain

      Furthermore, the point of grammar correction should be to primarily to help people communicate their point. Note the word "help", which could be replaced with "encourage".

      June 13, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
  10. bellenoitr

    Oh dear. It will definitely get sucked into the black hole and vanish! More money down the 'hole.'

    June 13, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  11. southernwonder

    why go way out there to see black holes?

    June 13, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • CJ

      Black holes have x-ray emissions which we cannot study from earth because our atmosphere blocks almost all of it (thank god)

      June 13, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  12. brandonclapp

    lol @ the number of ignorant people commenting on this. This isn't a religious battle. People have been fighting that battle since the beginning of time and I really don't expect it to stop on a CNN blog post. Fact is, if it was not for science innovation like this, it would not be possible to have the luxuries you have today.

    As far as the government goes, they are only interested in what benefits them, not you. They couldn't care less about having a more efficient means of transportation. They're millionaire elected officials who got that way by kissing ass to special interest groups with lots of $$$$$

    June 13, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • 1st Sgt-TopKick

      If you do some research, you'll find that most government officials are NOT millionaires and actually get $$$ from YOUR taxes. The ways to control what they do is:
      (1) go VOTE;
      (2) go write letters & opinions to your representatives (or TWEETS) and
      (3) go start an on-line blog, a YouTube or Facebook page to voice your concerns and get others interested and joining You.

      Seems to have worked in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and other countries. These techniques seem to have worked getting people "fired" from Congress (e.g. Rep Anthony Weiner), elected to Congress (e.g. Sen Lisa Murkowski); elected President (Barack Obama) and removed from office (e.g. FAA Admin Randy” Babbitt). Try one (or all) of these techniques instead of just throwing around sand in the playground. Why not TRY to make a difference instead of just "yapping" about your dissatisfaction in the commentary section of a science article?

      July 1, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  13. Look up

    "God does not play dice" and you will see that Einstein did provide you with an answer.

    June 13, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Well not now

      because the post this was answering has been deleted.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Don

      Space exploration is important. Not only does it drive innovation, it helps with patriotism, and hopefully to have a common goal to improve every life on this blue planet. Remember dinosaurs lived way longer than us and look what happened to them (sorry reference to asteroid/comet). If one heads our way....kiss all those stupid politicians and religious people good bye. Too bad they won't realize there is no god.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  14. John

    What a joke. 30 second commercial to watch nothing but a guy in a head set. This site stinks. Nothing but advertisement

    June 13, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  15. JEM

    Think where NASA would be if so much money and resources had not been wasted on the Space Shuttle.

    June 13, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • John

      The shuttle program lead to a lot of advances that we use here on Earth. It served its purpose.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Greg

      NASA got funding BECAUSE of the shuttle program...and the shuttle program was a phenomenal success

      June 13, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • JohnK

      The Shuttle program was a huge success but also a huge money pit that never realized it's original promiss of making low Earth orbit trips cheap. Not to mention the idea of quick turn arounds which never materialized either. It served it's purpose and now we will be leaving low earth orbit up to private industry which will do it for a fraction of the cost. Besides the shuttle was never going to take you or me anywhere near space. Private industry on the other hand likely will.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Jim

      Shuttle missions were not paid for with your tax dollars. Shuttle experiments were funded through the commercial work performed by the shuttles. Contrary to popular belief, NASA is not some huge money pit; they run on a tight, and (relative to the expense of what they do) small budget. They do important research that benefits all nations.

      June 13, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  16. WilmaWonka

    How do you know you're traveling through a black hole in outer space?

    June 13, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • JohnK

      Who exactly is doing that? This article is about a telescope that was launched into space today to look at very distant objects possibly including black holes.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  17. AL

    Very cool... BUT was that the worst video ever???? Where is the launch? False advertising!

    June 13, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  18. Bob B

    Now all we need are cars that can run on something besides gas or one that gets 200mpg. This comment is off subject, but if we can send NuSTAR out to look for black holes, we should be able to make a car that gets great milage or on something besides gas.

    June 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Vanilla lice

      Great point!! But, I don't think the oil companies will allow that πŸ™

      June 13, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • JohnK

      Yes because using a telescope to look at far away things is so much like figuring out how to get better fuel economy or inventing a new fuel source. They should just hire you and all our troubles would be solved.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • JEM

      Back in 1981, there were cars for sale that got 55mpg. If one of those cars was modified to incorporate modern fuel injection and modern transmissions, than one would have a 65mpg car for around $15,000 each. Too bad such a concept has been regulated out of existence.

      BTW It is not the oil companies who are the prime suspects of preventing the marketing of 200mpg cars; it is governments who do not want to loose critically needed gas tax revenue. Governments are here to serve their interests; not yours.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  19. Dr. Peter Venkman

    Back off man...I'm a scientist.

    June 13, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  20. Paul

    repuggy, the socalled 6000 number is a bogus number...

    Its a fact that we have physical proof out there that proves things are way older than that.
    even if we ignore science, there is physical evidence that no flood has ever been in this particular part of Egypt for 15000 years (no water ever)...

    besides one can still use the bible to come up with 1000 times the timeline anyway.

    Besides, a huge amt of the stuff we use today is specifically per the research that led to being used by Nasa (whether it came from them or contractors).

    Nasa stil lhas value even if the shuttle doesnt.

    June 13, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  21. jeremy

    Space exploration is only worth the money if the findings of the exploration are 100 percent shared with the human population. As it stands now the u s government and other governments declare it all as top secret information and all we know about is the pretty pictures they show us.

    June 13, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Vanilla lice


      The government gets to keep all the goodies and only lets us know... "We spent your money on this. Here's some stinking pictures! Now, we need more money, because these special screws for our "NEW" spacecraft cost $75 a pop!"

      June 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Jim


      June 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • JohnK

      What the frack do you think a telescope does there Einstein? It takes pretty pictures that Nasa in turn lets us all see. I guess it's just more fun to think of the evil government hiding everything from you because what's more fun than a juicy conspiracy story right?

      June 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • CJ

      Almost all data NASA collects is open to the public. You apparently just don't know how to find it.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  22. Kikaider

    Um, next time, try the Political-Ticker blog.

    June 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Kikaider

      Looks like the post this was in response to was deleted. All the better.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  23. Sue IL

    Love this stuff, much better than manned space craft, what a magnificent universe we live in! MY tax contributions very well spent!

    June 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Evan

      Me too. I want to live forever just to see where we go from here.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  24. Jim

    Double the budget for NASA.

    June 13, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • nsheth

      go ahead let it come out of your pay check but I can't really contribute anymore... already taking 42% from me...

      June 13, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
      • fimeilleur

        better yet, transfer 1% of the Defense budget... that will triple NASA's budget and not even hurt the wars in the sandboxes.

        June 13, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
  25. Augustine Uzoigwe

    Telescope Launches To Explore Black.

    June 13, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  26. israel

    you people are idiots, this isn't a "waste" it's in nasa's budget, this was already paid for in advance when nasa recieved their budget from the government, if none of you think that understanding the universe around us is important you might as well jump off a cliff

    June 13, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • nsheth

      right behind you.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Yo There

      I...doubt that jumping off a cliff would give one any more clarity...

      June 13, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  27. Patriarchae

    It makes me sad to see the large number of comments saying "this is stupid, this is a waste of money" etc. How so many people could WANT to live in willful ignorance is beyond me. The stupidity and selfishness of man never ceases to disappoint.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • John

      What they mean is "this money should be spent on me because I am special."

      June 13, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • bro

      The money should be spent filling the black holes in our hyways

      June 13, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
      • bryan

        Or the holes in our education system since some people can't spell "highway".

        June 13, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  28. Brian

    Richard Dawkins- "Science is interesting, and if you don't agree you can F*** off."

    June 13, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  29. sketchedy

    "the science operational stuff?" Way to mail this article in, sheesh.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • zeke

      yeah, i thought the same thing. apparently the good columnists are on strike or something, so they hired a local high school newspaper reporter to write this one.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • zeke

      1st Draft: "so, like, they launched this thing into space and it's gonna take pictures of black holes and stuff. I'm not sure when we'll get pictures back, but someone said that it should be pretty soon. And there's this arm thingy, like, 30 feet long or something, and it's gonna be used sorta like glasses that aren't on your face, or something like that. anyway it's science, so that's cool."

      June 13, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  30. repuggy

    God made us 6000 years ago, no science is needed

    June 13, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • sketchedy

      ....he writes on a computer.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Patriarchae

      Yawn. If you're going to troll/Poe at least try harder so we get some amusement out of it.


      June 13, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • israel

      so that explains human remains dating back over 25000 years ago

      June 13, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Justin

      Be careful with your use of sarcasm, many won't catch on.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Chris R

      Based on the name I"m guessing this guy is being sarcastic. If he's not they saying we don't need science while using his computer to post on the internet is just ironic.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  31. manyote

    Why go so far and spend so much when all they have to do is look inside Wierd Willard's head.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  32. PhoneGuy

    Anyone who has a cell phone on them right now has no right to complain about the expense of this launch. The toy in your pocket that you're probably using to read and comment on this article right now, was developed through black hole research! The list of modern conveniences and technological breakthroughs that came from prue science research (primarily funded by tax payers) is too long to list here.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Terry Vann

      ............what you're really saying then is there is still hope, thru the space program to balance the budget, reduce the debt and solve world hunger. The future looks much brighter thru the space program's lens.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
      • Kikaider

        And I suppose that *you* are saying, that the 0.5% of the Federal budget that NASA receives could balance the budget, reduce the debt and solve world hunger, if only we didn't waste it on NASA.

        Sounds like you're the one living in a land of make believe...

        June 13, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  33. martin

    The simple fact is that almost every single thing we've done in space could have been done and could be done, with relatively inexpensive unmanned vehicles.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Amused

      Most of the space exploration that NASA has done HAS INDEED BEEN DONE with unmanned space craft! You obviously know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about the space program, do you?

      June 13, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
      • Terry Vann

        ....give credit to the monkeys, mice, rats and dogs...they were a part of the space program too.

        June 13, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
      • MrSid

        Manned space flight is important for the long term survival of the species. Or do you think this planet will last forever? We must expand into new environments off planet to ensure there is humanity in case something were to happen on Earth.

        June 13, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • israel

      90% of our space exploration is indeed done by unmanned spacecraft, we only send upwards of what, 4 people into space every 2 years

      June 13, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Kikaider

      Like assure the survival of humanity past the next Mass Extinction Event?
      Oh, wait, we haven't done that yet.

      We better crank up that manned space program, ASAP.

      June 13, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  34. lordshipmayhem

    Big Bang: "It is only a theory. '


    The general public refers to theories as "only a theory". In science, to be called a theory, a hypothesis has to pass a seven-step "scientific method". It is the highest level of scientific thought, the most important concept in science. A theory can be considered a scientific truth, supported by the evidence – not disproved by any evidence.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • john

      So, where did that infinitesmally small and dense point come from? It just "popped" into existance? Also, your infallible science breaks down past a certian point. It doesn't actually work done to a point. It works down to a sphere. Which leads to the 3-D hologram THEORY.
      The 3-D hologram theory states that the universe we know is a 3-D hologram projected from 2-D information on the surface of a sphere in the center of the universe. Inside this sphere is an energy source projecting outward (Is this God?).
      Or the theory that says the Big Bang resulted when two multi-verses bumped into each other.
      Which one of those 3 theories of the origin of the universe is correct?

      June 13, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
      • Jason

        So where did God come from? I find it funny that many creationists will accept that god is inifinite but cannot accept that a quantum singularity is infinite. Talk about a double standard! Still, any cosmological theory, even those based on religious doctrines, will run into the problem of an infinite time scale (see the stacked turtle parable). For this reason alone, you can't think much further than the formation of our universe alone and the Big Bang theory is what that best describes it based on physical observations and particle physics. You cannot test anything that cannot be observed so humanity might never understand what happened before the big bang or what happens after max entropy. However, science still provides a better explanation than Biblical Creationism, which tells us absolutely nothing about the Universe other than what was observable by the naked eye. For being the quote-unquote Word of God, it is surprisngly lacking on basic insights to the world around us, spending more time describing Heaven than it did Earth.

        June 13, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • J

      If only more people understood this, scientists would have a far easier time interacting with the public.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  35. Fair Trade

    I would gladly trade most of what Hollywood produces for more of this. Just one less movie starring "The Rock", or one less Lady Gaga abomination would pay for years of scientific research. Heck it doesn't even have to go to science. Less Gaga and Rock is a blessing in its own right.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  36. BaltoPaul

    He hasn't.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  37. vic

    Is it really a black hole? Oh, wait... it's "that" hole...

    June 13, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  38. KnowsMore123

    who cares? what a waste of time and money

    June 13, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • SJ

      A waste? The waste was your time commenting about something you obviously know nothing about. Even if the mission returns no data, there were many technologies developed to get to that point which will trickle down to everyday products in the future.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Justin

      Come on people, you obviously cannot blame those incapable of comprehending a basic article on science to truly come up with a sound argument. Or can you?

      June 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Pepinium

      Knowsnothing, your statement exhibits the classic fear of people that, though very ignorant, can sense that they are a few steps behind in the evolutionary scale. It must be a terrible thing to have no imagination and be confined to the bleak reality that surrounds you with no vision or connection to most of the things you see. In fact, the name of your avatar reveals a lot about the insecurity you feel and the content of your thoughts shows that you have, long ago, given up on the idea of actually trying to understand. Its ok, somebody has to make my fries at McDonalds and pick up my trash. You sound perfectly qualified.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  39. LifeDream

    Liberal Space Missions? You are joking right? Satire maybe? Oh but then you backed it up with Liberal Media so now I understand where you're coming from. Labels are boring, as is much of the talking points the more conservative members of our society have been spewing with increasing hyperbole. Wipe the crazed induced spittle off your chin, take the tin foil hat off, put ON your thinking caps, or go stand in the corner. Put your nose in the circle of chalk on the blackboard and dont move until class is over.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  40. rob

    Bravo, brave sir! Bravo!

    June 13, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  41. Germanicus

    C'mon you've been waiting all day for someone to post something like this.

    June 13, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  42. jim

    Scientists like yourself are truly helping mankind with your dedication to your work!

    June 13, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  43. steve

    LMFAO!! too funnny

    June 13, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  44. Phearis

    What ... The ... ?!? Did a 12 year old girl write this article?

    June 13, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • vic

      "The science operational stuff will start about 30 days after NuSTAR launches, NASA said." Stuff? Really? Once I read that, I immediately moved the the comments section to make sure I was not loosing my mind... Relieved to find this post to reply to!

      June 13, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • BaltoPaul

      It looks like my daughter's work. Cut her some slack. She's only ten years old. Dang interns can't right themselfs properlike sentemences.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • william

      i looked at that picture of the rocket carrying airliner and wondered...did anyone else think of 9/11, or have you all been totally brainwashed.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
      • vic

        I know, and what's up with the DC 10... I mean that plane should of gone out of commission 20 years ago... CRAP!

        June 13, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
      • BaltoPaul


        That's actually a Lockheed L-1011. About the same era as the DC10, but a different manufacturer and aircraft.

        It's got about 190,000 lbs of payload lifting cabability, and can get up to Mach .95. It's also a lot cheaper to buy and maintain for these sorts of one-off flights than the more modern commercial airliners, which are built to maximize fuel economy.

        June 13, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
      • Kikaider

        If you mean I believe in
        A. The moon landing
        B. The World Trade Center was destroyed by impacting aircraft

        Then by your point of view, yes, I'm brainwashed.
        By my point of view, it means I don't wear a tinfoil hat...

        June 13, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Justin

      The use of "stuff" was certainly "cute."

      June 13, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  45. H2O

    Launches near the equator take less total energy than those from sites closer to either pole because the earth's diameter is larger at the equator with a greater rotational speed to get things started with. See http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/07/space-shuttle-launch-equator-vs-mountains/

    Then again, perhaps you are a troll and this is beyond your bitty brain. Yea, that's it.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Wow

      Dude I love you

      June 13, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  46. RRunner

    I can't read "strapped to a rocket" without thinking of Wile E Coyote.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • manyote

      From 'ACME'.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  47. Chris

    Many things in the space program could be considered wasteful, but this mission is to study blackholes, a necessary component to furthering our understanding of the very basics of physics. Studying the extremes of the universe is now our only way to make real breakthroughs in science, and hopefully in turn payoff with new breakthroughs in energy, chemistry, etc.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  48. willy

    Excellent way to launch a satellite. Not as good for PR because it might be harder to get the ole camper out and relax while waiting to see a massive rocket launch.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  49. Reemo

    More spaceships should be launched from planes like this. It takes so much more energy to dead-lift a ship straight up into space from the ground, which is why we've had so many failed launches in the past. You'd think after thousands of successful daily takeoffs from commercial planes that NASA would have figured that this is a more efficient way to launch spaceships as well.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Judas Priest

      Pegasus has got a pretty low weight limit, and launching anything larger from an airplane would require specially designing a new, larger plane for the launch platform. I'd love to see it happen myself, but so far nothing else has progressed past the pipe dreaming stage.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Amused

      Reemo, only VERY small and light payloads such as this satellite are feasible candidates for being launched from conventional aircraft! Note that this TINY and LIGHT satellite required a HUGE L10-11 to take it into the upper atmosphere! Very few space exploration vehicles are small enough to be launched in this manner!

      June 13, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  50. Old planes

    Surprised to see that old L-1011 in the picture. Long since retired from commercial pasenger service due to both age and cost of operation. Nice wide-body planes for the passengers. Last one I flew on was Delta's.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Goremote

      Me too.......Atlanta to Ft. Myers.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  51. Lars

    I think we are getting closer to understand how stars work. We can learn much about the energy field by actually seeing the process. Hopes to understand the universe are Nobel, I mean noble. Isn't the end goal free clean energy? Well, free will never happen, but if we can get off pollution that is worth the time for study.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • clark

      Lars, you do realize if you make a typo you can just back over it right?

      June 13, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
      • Lars

        A noble effort, and a Nobel prize if we discover clean, stable, renewable energy process.

        June 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
      • Beau


        June 13, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
      • BaltoPaul

        You do realize that his joke sailed right over your head, right?

        June 13, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • vic

      Bakspace, Ooops, I mean backspace...

      June 13, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  52. Obama Joe

    What is that good for ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,absolutely nothing ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    June 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  53. Obama Joe


    June 13, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  54. magnus

    I dont have a problem with spending money like this. we should not prevent the advancement of science and technology because wall street are a bunch of crooks. we need to move on with our existence and throw the thieves in jail rather than bail them out again with this money.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • Nobody


      That's the worse job of trolling I've ever read. C'mon, you can do better than that.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
      • magnus

        i wasnt trolling. i was commenting on someone's post that this is a waste of money. you seem dumb to me.

        June 13, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Nobody

      What post? Why didn't you reply to the poster? Your comments seemed totally random.

      Sorry if I didn't understand your intent.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
      • Kikaider

        They seem completely on topic to me.

        June 13, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Kikaider


      June 13, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  55. Longmont, CO

    "This was a plane-assisted launch, which is less expensive than the dramatic liftoffs from the ground. From the air, less fuel is required to help the goods escape Earth's gravitational pull." I'm not sure I understand the the physics behind this llogic. Yes, it takes less fuel if you lunch from the sky, but you still have to get it to the sky which takes fuel. Plus, you have the added fuel to get the jet up there with it. That's like driving from Colorado to NY and "saving fuel" by having a truck tow it to Iowa and driving it the rest of the way.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • H2O

      Airplanes wings provide lift vs. a pure rocket that has to burn fuel only to go up.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
      • Longmont, CO

        But isn't that offset by the amount of fuel needed to get that heavy jet up there ?

        June 13, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
      • Longmont, CO

        If that logic holds, why didn't they just "fly" the space shuttle into space ?

        June 13, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
      • BaltoPaul

        Wings provide aerodynamic lift. Less fuel is needed to lift payload in this manner.

        This ain't exactly rocket scie ... oh yeah, actually it is.

        June 13, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
      • Germanicus

        Solid rocket fuel is much more expensive then jet fuel. The shuttle, and the external fuel tank cannot travel on the back of the 747. it is too big. This rocket was small.

        June 13, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
      • BaltoPaul

        "why didn't they just "fly" the space shuttle into space ?"

        At some point along the way, you start to run out of atmosphere. No atmosphere, no aerodynamic lift from wings. Think of the aircrafft as the "first stage" in this launch. Fly as high as you can with wings, then release the much lighter rocket to get the rest of the way.

        Also – have you ever tried pushing a car? It's hard to get it moving from zero, and it gets easier as you get it rolling. That Lockheed not only lets you start your rocket launch over 40,000 feet off the ground ... you're also able to start from about Mach .9 intead of from zero.

        That means you need less rocket and fuel to lift the payload, so you don't need to add even more rocket and fuel weight to left the additional rocket and fuel weight.

        June 13, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
      • Longmont, CO

        OK...I think I get it. Thanks for the explanations. It still seems that (using the shuttle example), that you could launch it from the ground (I realize it's too big to have a jet take it up...I wasn't suggesting that)...have it fly to an optimal level...then take it ballistic from there (hypothetically, of course. I know that's not practical). In any event, thanks for explaining.

        June 13, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • BaltoPaul

      The aircraft is re-useable. The rocket is not. If the rocket is built large enough to lift the payload, the rocket itself, and the fuel needed to get the payload to orbit, you need to build a much bigger rocket. You're adding more rocket and more fuel to lift more rocket and fuel.

      The aircraft is reuseable, and can use aerodynamic lift in addition to propulsion. It's cheaper in total for this size payload.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • KH in California

      You need to consider the amount and rate at which fuel is consumed by rockets and airplanes. The massive controlled explosion required for rocket engines consumes *huge* amounts of fuel, whereas the jet engines on a plane sip fuel in comparison.
      To continue your analogy, the tow truck is a hybrid that gets 100 mpg and the truck is a diesel that gets 5 mpg - more efficient to tow it as far as you can.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
      • Longmont, CO

        This is the piece I was missing in my logic. Thanks. I was thinking in terms of absolutes. It takes "x" amount of energy to go from point A to point B with the variables being time and friction. Wings can provide lift, but they're not what I think of as "energy". The difference, as you pointed out, is time. It's taking the Jet much longer to get from A to B and therefore would use less energy. Right ?

        June 13, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
      • BaltoPaul


        If you wanted to climb a mountain that was a couple hundred miles from your house, you could hike there, carrying everying on your back to make the journey to the mountain, and then climb it.

        Alternatively, you could get someone to drive you to the mountain, drop you off at the base if it, and then climb from there. You wouldn't need to carry nearly as much on your back.

        To address your earlier question about flying the space shuttle to space ... once you run out of atmosphere, the wings and air-breathing engines that got you there become dead weight ... if you don't leave them behind, that's a lot to lift. That Lockheed used in this mission to get an 800 lbs payload into orbit weighs about 240,000 lbs .... all dead weight once you get past the point where wings do anything for you.

        That would be like riding in a car to your mountain, and then carrying the car up the mountain on your back because you ran out of road!

        From a physics and cost perspective, this lauch system comes down to the advantages of aerodynamic lift vs. dead lift, the re-useability of the aircraft, which is in effect a massive "stage one". and a bit if a cost differential in fuel types.

        June 13, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
      • Longmont, CO

        Good analogies ! Thanks !

        June 13, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • FuzzyLumps

      There's a huge efficiency difference between dead-lift thrust, and winged flight using air pressure for lift. Plus, the jet can burn regular old fuel which is cheaply mass produced in numerous locations.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • jared

      You do realize that the space shuttle can't actually "fly" right? It's wings generate no lift at all and it basically come back into the atmosphere and lands under a controlled fall.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  56. joemt

    Once again, results will be available December 21st.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  57. Terry Vann

    ..........you learn something even from the very ignorant.

    Socialists love space programs?

    June 13, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  58. Steven

    I didn't know a space mission could be liberal.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  59. bigubu

    Keep complaining about spending money on space exploration people, and sometime in the future all your decendants can curse your reluctance to save them as the Sun goes Supernova and fries them to a crisp. Maybe we won't make it that long, just think of your great, great, great grandchildren stumbling around like to children we see today in third world countries, no hope, no chance to grow up because we have used all the resoursec the earth has to offer and are slowly dying as a race. If we don't explore the frontiers of space we will never leave this beautiful but limited planet, and the human race will cease to exist.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  60. Peter S.

    "The science operational stuff..."

    Nice work, CNN. Way to reach out to the 10-year-old demographic.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Ryan

      ahh..you beat me to it Peter :p

      June 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  61. phiric

    X-ray "light"? A better place to use that word would be in: science article "light"

    June 13, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Pete

      Looks like one of the 911 rockets seen on those planes that struck the world trade center.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
      • Amused

        Is that a joke? You don't REALLY believe any of that already debunked nonsense do you?

        June 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  62. Adam

    Am I the only one who watches this video and pictures nuclear-tipped tomahawks fired from airliners? Perfect stealth attack weapon...hide in "plane" sight.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • onestarman

      I SEE – SpaceshipONE being dropped from its 'MOTHERSHIP' Using an AIR-BREATHING AIRCRAFT as a 'First Stage' is TRICKIER but much more Efficient than using a SKYSCRAPPER filled With LOX and KEROSENE to get off the Ground like the Saturn V Used to Lift the Tiny (by Comparison) Upper Stage above the Atmosphere.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  63. J Dub

    While I appreciate the knowledge that our space programs have brought us, I'm beginning to wonder if our money wouldn't be better spent on the more pressing earthly issue of improving energy efficiency and sustainability. This doesn't discount the value that space exploration has to scientific discovery, but we need solutions now.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • onestarman

      You have answered your OWN QUESTION – The TINY percentage of Our BUDGET we spend of Space Research has GIANT Payback to Engineering we can Use on Earth. We would NOT be communicating DIGITALLY without previous Advancements required for space. If we WANT to SAVE MONEY – We spend $.59 of EVERY DOLLAR of Our BUDGET on the MILITARY – The NASA Budget isn't even 1% of That.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
      • Jake

        You're Definitely Right! NASA's budget is a only 18 billion dollars or about .005% of the national budget. It's really small, we really don't spend much of any money in space. Amazingly NASA is able to use this measly budget and send beautiful pictures and amazing scientific advancements in all scientific fields from Astronomy to Marine Biology and even Archeology. Even while being a space administration provides a great deal of scientific advancements in all fields.

        June 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • SW

      I doubt you "appreciate the knowledge" if you want to cut NASA's budget from tiny to miniscule.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • BaltoPaul

      You're right. We should quit screwing around with this space stuff and work on things like solar energy. Oh, wait. We figured out photovoltaic technologies that are the basis for those solar panels you see on roofs everywhere by working on developing energy solutions to power spacecraft.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  64. lalalal

    Obvious troll is obvious.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  65. Tglo

    "operational stuff" STUFF? Are you in 4th grade? Come on....

    June 13, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Terry Vann

      This "operational stuff" is huge! Don't make fun of it. That thingamajig they put up with the airplane costs billions of bucks.
      It's not as important a story as the space shuttle, so they did have a sixth grader write the story.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  66. Goose66

    That must be one tiny satellite. This launch system would only be useful for the smallest of payloads.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • BC

      Check out Stratolaunch...it's underconstruction and will carry something larger

      June 13, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Judas Priest

      Oh there are smaller launchers. Pegasus' capacity to LEO is 375 kilos, about 825-826 pounds. If that's all you need, that's all you need. Besides, Pegasus is nice and economical, and is very reliable.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  67. Tom

    ...or they should go ask the President' secret service team.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  68. jm

    This has to be the worst video from CNN. You guys really need to step up your reporting. My 4 year old can tell you more about this satellite than what your reporters presented.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  69. cbc

    I can only assume your post was intended as sarcasm.

    Space missions are not "liberal". Politicians canbe, voters can be, but a space mission has no political opinion, it just is.

    "Liberal" (I.e. Democrat) and "Conservative" (i.e. Republican) administrations have supported NASA missions for the last fifty years.

    "We need lower taxes on the people that are REALLY supporting this country – the higher earners, the professionals and the people who actually run the companies in this country." Guess what – a lot of those "high earners" and "professionals" make their money in the aerospace industry. Put them out of business – that'll really help the economy.

    Sarcasm or stupidity. It's one or the other.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  70. Robert

    Great! They can waste money looking for black holes, but they can't keep a single manned program going!

    June 13, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Terry Vann

      Billions of dollars going down a black hole!

      It's the space program stupid!

      June 13, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Judas Priest

      I would much rather see NASA stick to basic science than to manned programs now. And scientific research is not as much of a waste as, say, you.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  71. neo

    The reason for the X-ray telescope is due to the coming system (Nibiru-WarmWood) towards the solar plane. It is a good idea to study this system.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • Mike D

      Right. Don't worry, Duck Dodgers will save us from Planet X. In the meantime, keep that tinfoil hat on nice and snug.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  72. Worf

    That's funny. I know of a lot of Republican politicians who back NASA pretty fervently.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  73. PushingBack

    Yes, yes, science is such a waste of dollars. I just hate it when we learn stuff!

    June 13, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  74. J76

    Sorry, but how about the conservative trollers use their brains. These rockets are developed and built in the US, giving normal people jobs. I have two friends that work for this compeny. But perhaps you would prefer that this money goes to rich corporate fat cats who buy luxury cars (made outside of the US). And these projects are in pursuit of knowledge. Oh, now I understand why some peoeple aren't interested.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • DPCFOH

      How do you know it's Dems (or Republicans for that matter) who are ripping it? Do the posters now have to put a D or R after their user name?

      June 13, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Germanicus

      ahh, I hear just as many conservatives complaining about how they don't want to pay taxes to support this. Those libs think the money would be better spent elsewhere and the conservatives think it should not be spent at all. There are also plenty of people on both sides that still support Nasa.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  75. bigubu

    Boohoo, our government is spending money on space again. People don't be so short sighted, and only thinking of yourselfs and your life span. We better find a way of this rock we call earth because it will end one day. Maybe we destroy it ourselves, maybe we use all of the resources and the human race dies, or maybe we live long enough to watch the sun burn us to a crisp when it goes supernova on our collective A%&. If we don't find someplace else to live and flourish as a species out in the cosmos the human race will die. If you are not concerned about the future of our race then go dig a whole and bury your head, but please stop spewing your mindless gibberish.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Bob

      Our sun will not go supernova silly... it is way too small. It will expand and vaporize the earth though πŸ™

      June 13, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • serveJBR

      The earth, the US and other nations have more than enough time and resources to figure out a way to populate other planets / space or whatever, but we WASTE so much. We can do it all, if criminals and mindless 'fraidy cats stop the greedy "rape" of all that has been provided for us. Think how much we could save if people stopped breaking laws, starting wars, eating too much, celebrating / partying too much, worrying so much we don't make adequate headway, etc etc. We can explore the cosmos and take care of all of our inhabitants and our home, we just have so many people who erroneously think otherwise, or who are generally deceived, crazy or evil. But, we keep trying, what else to do?

      June 13, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  76. Charles

    The narrator made a mistake when he said it will take a picture of X-Ray particles flying out of a black hole. Nothing comes out of a black hole. The particles may be flying AWAY FROM a black hole, but they will not be flying out of it.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Jon


      June 13, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Matt

      Well, the X-rays are coming out of the very edge of the event horizon.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Amused

      Actually, the narrator DID NOT make any mistakes when he stated that the satellite will detect x-rays flying out of a black hole! X-rays are INDEED emitted from the polar jets of a black hole. The notion that "NOTHING" whatsoever escapes the gravity of a black hole is not entirely correct. Black holes draw light and matter in towards the center of the "singularity" as a black is referred to, and compressed nuclear particles, including Xrays, are shot out from the collapsing center in the form of two jets which are emitted from the poles of the spinning gravity disk. It is these X-ray jets that are the tell tale signatures of black holes.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
      • Terry Vann

        ....and furthermore, stay tuned as to why it's important in any way, shape or manner.

        June 13, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  77. Terry Frypan

    I bought those X-Ray eyes glasses out of the back of a comic book. They didn't work at all.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  78. jjoep199

    It must be hard to only be able to see the world through politically distorted lenses.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  79. M.E.

    How appropriate, something with "x-ray eyes" is launched almost exactly 40 years after Ziggy Stardust landed.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  80. rosie

    If it had "Betty Davis Eyes" it would be more awesome, "X-ray eyes" are so old school.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  81. Spock

    To spend millions of dollars on another telescope is illogical.

    June 13, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Nicole

      Actually, I think giving millions to our govt leaders is illogical...at least the telescope will have a job and perform it well! Can't say the same about our govt leaders.

      June 13, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Noocrat

      If Defense can get trillion this year (rough estimates in the 1-1.4 trillion range), NASA can have their 20 billion budget.

      June 13, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • rosie

      Only an idiot would see this as illogical. Human endeavor needs to continue and space is one place we can still explore.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
      • Terry Vann

        ........to go where no man has gone before.....

        June 13, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • Birch please

      How about a defense budget that has only made the world angrier at us and actually decreased our safety over the past few decades... now thats illogical.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • stellar

      You are ignorant if you really think this. This world would not be anything like it is today if it weren't for the many technological advances that come from things like this. Do yourself a favor and educate yourself; look up NASA spinoffs.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • LifeDream

      Durr...science is a skarin me...I know my gazinta's an thats all i need. Come to think (ouch) of it...I guess I rally dont believe 2 gazinta 4 equals 2 either.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  82. RCFK

    Who wrote this article? With text that uses terms such as "sort of like" and "stuff", they are clearly not up to the job and a disgrace to the CNN reporting staff.

    June 13, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Noocrat

      I would assume they're try to make it informal/conversational so it can be better digested by all demographics.

      June 13, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  83. usarmyoverlord

    It's all worth it if we can get warp drive someday πŸ˜‰

    June 13, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  84. Karma

    Westral They don't want to pollute the ship with a human being!

    June 13, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  85. DeanS

    "escape Earth's gravitational pull" does not happen. At 340 miles, gravity is only reduced by 15%. Radius of the earth is 4000 miles, G at 340 miles is (4000 / (4000 + 340))**2

    June 13, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • TheThinker

      Agreed... dunno how they think an object stays in orbit if there's no gravity! πŸ˜‰

      June 13, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Uncle Bob

      It's been a few decades since I took science, but doesn't mass belong in the equation? I mean the physics kind, not the Roman Catholic kind... πŸ™‚

      June 13, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
      • cbc

        Mass is a factor in Newton's equation (F=G(m1*m2)/r2) but the mass of the earth is constant so it doesn't affect the comparison.

        June 13, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
      • Uncle Bob

        CBC: Ah! I get it thanks, eh?

        June 13, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Terry Vann

      ....and that explains why the Australians don't fall off the planet!

      June 13, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
      • Cedar Rapids

        i thought it was vecro, isnt it velcro?

        June 13, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  86. Sean in AZ

    "The science operational stuff will start about 30 days after NuSTAR launches, NASA said."

    Did a twelve year old write that sentence? Thanks for that great, in depth reporting on all that "science stuff", CNN.

    June 13, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Nicole

      Sad part is that sentence is also in quotes...I wonder if someone at NASA actually stated that? That would be pretty bad lol!

      June 13, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Nicole

      Whoops...never mind...I totally read your comment in quotes and thought the one in the article was also in quotes lol!! My bad πŸ˜›

      June 13, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  87. Wastrel

    It's not easy to find real information about these launches. Here's one being done from a plane which is cheaper and doesn't tie up facilities on the ground. Can people be sent into space this way? I don't know! I can't even find out what the mass of this satellite is! If they can send a vehicle of several hundred pounds (yeah, yeah, kilos) into orbit this way, could it carry a human being?

    June 13, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Richp

      We also launch anti satellite weapons the same way from an F16. Have not heard about this method for launching a satellite though.

      June 13, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • cbc

      Scaled Composites launches manned suborital spacecraft from an aircraft. With more development, they can achieve orbit.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • cja

      The launch system has been around for many years. It is not news at all.

      Read more about it here:

      June 13, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Larry

      If you are interested, I suggest Orbital Sciences' website for more information about the satellite & Launch Vehicle.


      Although Pegasus could carry a person into orbit (if he scrunched up a little), it couldn't carry any sort of life support or bring him home safely. The air launch concept is being used in other vehicles such as Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip One/Two, and Paul Allen's Stratolaunch concept.

      And I feel sorry for people who are so short-sighted that they think that the (relatively) small amount of money spent on the space program is a waste. Look up and show some curiosity once in a while!

      June 13, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  88. Chris

    The money doesn't go into a black hole. It goes into our economy.

    June 13, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  89. Charles

    Where's the belly flop, CNN?

    June 13, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Leonard

      It took me a minute to figure that out too. They are apparently referencing it being launched from the "belly" of the plane. I was expecting to read that it blew up on the pad when I saw belly flop.

      June 13, 2012 at 11:10 am |
      • Kaitlyn

        I was, too, Leonard! I was actually afraid to read it at first. I gotta admit I'm excited about this thing!!!

        June 13, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Albert911emt

      I think they called it a "belly-flop" only because it's such an undramatic launching of a space vehicle, unlike a vertical launch from the ground.

      June 13, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Texan

      Their ratings.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  90. Waste some more money

    Can't we just wait for the aliens to get here and ask THEM about the black holes? This is like throwing money into a black hole. The amount we get back out is going to be far less than that thrown in.

    June 13, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Sarcasmo

      Money is all just ones and zeros on a computer somewhere. Scientific knowledge is necessary to one day send religion to its final resting place.

      June 13, 2012 at 10:59 am |
      • bignevermo

        Scientific knowledge is necessary to one day send religion to its final resting place.


        June 13, 2012 at 11:10 am |
      • Paul

        Einstein would disagree.

        June 13, 2012 at 11:43 am |
      • Pedro

        Einstein was an atheist, so I think he would certainly agree.

        June 13, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
      • Jake

        @ Pedro –

        is that why he said something to the effect of "God does not play dice"?

        June 13, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
      • Paul

        Sorry, Pedro, but while Einstein did not subsribe to the usual dogma and doctine, he was hardly an atheist. It would be useful to differentiate between religion (dogma and doctine) and a spiritual belief in a creator. And BTW while I respect and admire science, they often get it wrong. Its actually part of the process. Observations don't fit theory, therefore there must be "dark matter".......or the theory could be wrong! Its just MHO, but the closer science gets, the farther away they are. I just happen to see no inherent conflict in a belief in both science and a spiritual belief in a Creator. Just one man's opinion

        June 13, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
      • Pedro

        Take it in context. He often referred to 'God' in the sense of the laws of nature. Einstein received hate mail from religious leaders telling him to 'leave our country' and he was an unapologetic atheist.

        June 13, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
      • james madison

        @ Jake:

        Einstein's idea of God was not at all the same as a religious persons idea of God. Have you ever heard of the "Grand Unifying Theory"? THAT was God to Einstein, not some dude in a cloud who sees you when you're sleeping and knows when you're awake. Ignorant christians like to use that quote to make themselves feel better about not being logical, when in reality it further solidifies their stupidity and lack of critical thinking and investigating. Locical christians (yes, they do exist...) know what Einstein meant and therefore don't use it to further their agenda.

        June 13, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
      • SB

        "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. " - This is what the man (Einstein) actually had to say on the subject of gods. Stop taking the dice comment out of context and take a drive down Reality Lane.

        June 13, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Richard

      Space exploration produces numerous valuable spin-offs that MAKE money. Otherwise, no one could justify the $180 billion they spend on the orbiting white elephant called the International Space Station.

      June 13, 2012 at 11:01 am |
      • SB

        Well, there is the fact that the money is spent here, on the ground. It pays people. It buys goods and services. In other words, every cent (excuse me, every HALF cent, which is about what NASA gets out of each tax dollar" is pumped directly into the economy. The money does not disappear and they don't carry it with them into space.

        I wish more people would think more clearly before speaking.

        June 13, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Leonard

      @Waste We're explorers by nature. We get a tremendous amount back. We didn't wait for bacteria to evolve to a point where we could ask it why it was killing us. The amount of money spent is not that much in the scheme of things.

      June 13, 2012 at 11:02 am |
      • Wastrel

        The amount of money we spend on space exploration is negligible in fact. We have spent far more bailing out Wall Street and trying to snuff muslims.

        June 13, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Alien

      What would you like to know?

      June 13, 2012 at 11:06 am |
      • Paul

        Why are you so secretive?

        June 13, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Jh1289

      NASA has been a money-maker for private industry and our economy in many ways that are not advertised, from Tempurpedic beds, to Tang, to several improvements in health care.

      June 13, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • bam

      yeah we need this money for our military 330billion spent more than all countries combined is not enough cuz we are being threatened by someone.... I gotta ask the gop who is actually threatening us... fear mongering 20+ years strong

      June 13, 2012 at 11:33 am |
      • WDinDallas

        People that fly airplanes into large buildings.

        June 13, 2012 at 12:59 pm |


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