Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA)
NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a Boeing 747SP modified to carry a 2.5 meter diameter infra-red telescope, arrived at Edwards Air Force Base early in the afternoon on May 31, 2007. It will conduct infra-red astronomical observations above most of the water vapor in the Earth's atmosphere.
NASA's Grumman C-20A Gulfstream 83-0502 made the flight from Waco, Texas to Edwards Air Force Base about twenty minutes ahead of SOFIA.
NASA Boeing 747SP-21, N747NA Clipper Lindbergh.
This 747SP-21 carries Boeing construction number 21441. It made its first flight on Apriul 25, 1977. It was delivered to Pan Am as N536PA on May 6, 1977. Pan Am named it Clipper Lindbergh. United Airlines bought it on February 13, 1986. United changed its registration to N145UA on November 1, 1986. It made its last revenue flight, and the last scheduled revenue flight of a 747SP in the United States, on October 17, 1994. It was withdrawn from use and parked at Oakland on October 18, 1994. It was ferried to Las Vegas on or before November 1, 1995. NASA bought it on January 1, 1997. It was ferried to San Francisco on February 17, 1997 and repainted with new titles identifying it as SOFIA on February 20. It entered a hangar at Waco, Texas for paint stripping and maintenance on May 1, 1999. The registration N747NA was reserved for it on December 17, 2004. It made its first flight after modification on April 26, 2007. After a series of local flights in the vicinity of Waco, it was ferried to its new home at the Dryden Flight Research Center.
SOFIA was escorted on the approach to Edwards by NASA McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18B Hornet, N846NA.
Eighteen years ago: The same 747SP flying for United Airlines as N145UA at Los Angeles on January 20, 1989.
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center released the following statement:
The heavily modified Boeing 747SP was ferried to Dryden May 31 from Waco, Texas, where L-3 Communications Integrated Systems installed a German-built 2.5-meter infrared telescope and made other major modifications over the past several years. SOFIA will undergo installation and integration of mission systems and a multi-phase flight test program at Dryden over the next three years that is expected to lead to a full operational capability to conduct astronomy missions in about 2010. During its expected 20-year lifetime, SOFIA will be capable of "Great Observatory" class astronomical science, providing astronomers with access to the visible, infrared and sub-millimeter spectrum with optimized performance in the mid-infrared to sub-millimeter range.
SOFIA at Edwards Air Force Base on September 26, 2007.
NASA's Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale was dedicated on April 9, 2009.
NASA's Boeing 747SP N747NA, the Stratospheric Observatory For Infra-red Astronomy (SOFIA) is housed in the newly dedicated Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility.