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August 26, 2010

Alan Brown
Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif.

SOFIA Observatory Finishes Open-Door Flight Tests


NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy recently completed a second series of flight tests with its telescope door open, clearing the flying observatory for coming astronomy missions. Lori Losey reports from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base:

VO/SOT: EM-0095-30 SOFIA last EE flt.mov     TT – 1:12.

"Researchers at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center have recently completed the second and final phase of flight-tests on the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy.
"The performance and structural integrity of this airborne observatory, also known as SOFIA, was validated through a series flight tests that confirmed the aircraft could operate safely at various flight conditions with the telescope's door open. SOFIA technicians at the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, California, will now finish installation and checkout of the remaining systems that support telescope operations.
"The modified Boeing 747 is now approved to begin flying astronomy missions at altitudes as high as 45,000 feet later this year."

The SOFIA observatory is being developed by NASA in partnership with the German Aerospace Center, which provided the SOFIA's high-tech 2.5-meter infrared telescope. SOFIA science missions are managed by NASA's Ames Research Center in Northern California, while SOFIA aircraft operations are conducted from the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale.

Video link: www.dfrc.nasa.gov/Gallery/Movie/SOFIA/HTML/EM-0095-30.html
Preview version: 35 mb, download time about 45 seconds
Broadcast version: 340 mb, download time about 6 minutes

For more information about the SOFIA observatory, visit: www.nasa.gov/sofia


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