SOFIA Completes Closed-Door Test Flight Edwards Air Force Base, Calif - NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, has passed a significant mission milestone. It has completed the first phase of experimental flight tests, which confirmed the structural integrity and performance of the modified 747SP SOFIA aircraft that carries a huge infrared telescope.
The telescope measures nearly 10 feet in width and weighs almost 19 tons. It peers through a 16-foot-high door cut into SOFIA's 747 fuselage. During this test series, the aircraft flew five times with this external door closed. These flights tested the limits of the aircraft's capabilities in many areas, including aerodynamics, structural integrity, stability and control, and handling qualities...Read more
NASA's SOFIA infrared observatory and F/A-18 safety chase during the first series of test flights to verify the flight performance of the modified Boeing 747SP.
October 11, 2007
NASA Photo / Carla Thomas