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January 9, 2013
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Inside a protected clean room tent on Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the second half of the fairing is ready for installation around NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer, or IBEX, spacecraft. The fairing is a molded structure that fits flush with the outside surface of the rocket and forms an aerodynamically smooth nose cone, protecting the spacecraft during launch and ascent. The IBEX satellite will make the first map of the boundary between the Solar System and interstellar space. IBEX is targeted for launch from the Kwajalein Atoll, a part of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean, on Oct. 19. IBEX will be launched aboard a Pegasus rocket dropped from under the wing of an L-1011 aircraft flying over the Pacific Ocean. The Pegasus will carry the spacecraft approximately 130 miles above Earth and place it in orbit. Photo credit: NASA/Randy Beaudoin, VAFB