SOFIA: Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy

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The Next Generation Airborne Observatory


NASA and the German space agency, DLR, are working together to create SOFIA - a Boeing 747SP aircraft modified to accommodate a 2.5 meter reflecting telescope. SOFIA will be the largest airborne telescope in the world, and will make observations that are impossible for even the largest and highest of ground-based telescopes. The observatory is being developed and operated for NASA by a team of industry experts led by the Universities Space Research Association (USRA). SOFIA will be based at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Federal Airfield near Mountain View, California, and is expected to begin flying in the year 2002. SOFIA is part of NASA's Origins Program.

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