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NASA Launches X-Ray Telescope Over Pacific Ocean

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — NASA has a new X-ray eye in the sky.

The space agency’s latest X-ray telescope was boosted into orbit Wednesday to begin a two-year mission to search for black holes and other hard-to-see celestial objects.

The telescope was launched by a rocket released from a carrier aircraft that took off from a remote Pacific island.

The rocket ignited its engines and climbed to space. About 15 minutes later, the telescope separated from the rocket as planned and unfurled its solar panels as it orbited about 350 miles above the Earth.

NASA chose to air-launch the $170 million mission because it’s cheaper than rocketing off from a launch pad.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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