SOFIA - NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy
NASA's SOFIA 747SP during an early check flight over the Texas countryside. NASA photo by Carla Thomas
NASA is developing the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy -
or SOFIA - as a world-class airborne observatory that will complement
the Hubble, Spitzer, Herschel and James Webb space telescopes and major
SOFIA features a German-built 100-inch (2.5 meter) diameter far-infrared telescope weighing 20 tons mounted in the rear fuselage of a highly modified Boeing 747SP aircraft. It is one of the premier space science programs of NASA's Science Mission Directorate.
SOFIA is a joint program by NASA and DLR Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt (German Aerospace Center). Major aircraft modifications and installation of the telescope has been carried out at L-3 Communications Integrated Systems facility at Waco, Texas. Completion of systems installation, integration and flight test operations are being conducted at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., from 2007 through 2010. SOFIA's science operations are being planned jointly by the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) and the Deutsches SOFIA Institut (DSI) under leadership of the SOFIA Science project at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field near San Jose, Calif.