NASA Boeing 747SP retires after stellar career

NASA’s Boeing 747SP, N747NA (c/n 21441), which was adapted to carry a large telescope and was referred to as the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), flew its last mission yesterday (September 29).

The aircraft operated between 38,000-45,000ft, putting its onboard telescope above 99% of the Earth’s infrared-blocking atmosphere providing astronomers the opportunity to study the universe in ways not possible on the ground.

The observatory’s mobility gave additional flexibility allowing observations to be conducted from almost anywhere on the planet and studies of transient events which were best seen over oceans where there are no telescopes.

Naseem Rangwala, the mission’s project scientist at the administration’s Ames Research Center in California, said: “From deepening our understanding of water on the Moon to revealing the invisible forces of cosmic-scale magnetic fields, none of it could have happened without the hundreds of people who contributed their expertise to the SOFIA mission.” 

The pr

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