Northrop Grumman's Stargazer conducted a curious flight from Edwards Air Force Base in California, out past the Channel Islands off the state's coast and into the Pacific Ocean, and back yesterday. The aircraft, the only Lockheed L-1011 Tristar still flying today, which normally operates from the Mojave Air and Space Port, is best known as the mothership for the Pegasus XL space launch rocket, but has been involved other advanced aerospace testing in the past.

Aerospace photographer Jack Beyer was among the first to notice Stargazer's so-far-unexplained outing, which began at around 5:00 AM local time and wrapped up some two hours later. After clearing the Channel Islands, the aircraft, which carries the civil registration code N140SC, had entered in a long, elliptical race track orbit and had begun to climb, eventually reaching an altitude of around 40,000 feet while facing out into the Pacific.

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