POSITIVE RATE
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747 As Flying Observatory

Sun May 25, 2003 10:27 am

Watching the Discovery channel last night i saw this interesting documentary about Alien life and our origins here on Earth. There was a 747 in United livery- a -100 or -200 that NASA will will fitting an enormous telescope to. The telescope will be fitted right at the back of the plane, and the fuselage will have a panel that can be opened so that observations can be made. The telescope is so big that just the reflecting mirror weighs about 20 tonnes. Air craft motion and turbulence will not be a problem as the telescope will allow for it. This will be a relatively cheap method to observe deep space free from clouds and the 747 is the perfect plane for the job  Smile Oh yeah it will be respainted in NASA livery.
 
timf
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RE: 747 As Flying Observatory

Sun May 25, 2003 11:02 am

It's a 747SP, N145UA:


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Photo © Paul Morley



You can find more information on the plane and program at http://www.united-sofia.com/.
 
POSITIVE RATE
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RE: 747 As Flying Observatory

Sun May 25, 2003 5:45 pm

I didn't know it was an SP, i thought it was a -100. Better the SP anyway since it's smaller and can fly higher(45,000feet). Great website btw.
 
GDB
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RE: 747 As Flying Observatory

Sun May 25, 2003 8:38 pm

 
na
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RE: 747 As Flying Observatory

Sun May 25, 2003 8:42 pm

The NASA/DASA project is called SOFIA. The aircraft is under modification since years but now they´re short of installing the telescope so the first flight will be soon.

But sad that they repaint the SP in the extremely boring NASA colours (white and grey with a blue stripe, whow, how advanced!).
 
Guest

RE: 747 As Flying Observatory

Sun May 25, 2003 8:47 pm

This aircraft (747SP-21) is certificated for operations up to 45,100 feet - in airline operations - like ANY OTHER 747... but because of its lighter weight, it is capable of reaching FL 450 faster than heavier 747s...
xxx
One thing - the aircraft will be operated by NASA probably, under restricted (non standard airworthiness) category because of its modifications, and thereby will NOT BE legally restricted to 45,000 feet...
xxx
The E-4 (military version of 747) can be flown to approximately 50,000 feet, or even higher when necessary, so I am sure a 747SP could do even better, after all has the same wing, therefore same buffet speed limits...
xxx
I flew that plane when it was with PanAm, glad it got a nicer retirement than a desert aircraft cemetery...
Happy contrails  Smile
(s) Skipper
 
GDB
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RE: 747 As Flying Observatory

Sun May 25, 2003 8:50 pm

B747skipper, did you like flying the 747SP more than standard models, with the greater performance of the SP?
 
sunilgupta
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RE: 747 As Flying Observatory

Sun May 25, 2003 10:00 pm

I flew on N145UA on its last scheduled passenger service which also happened to be the last scheduled passenger service for an SP in the US! The flight was IAD-SFO but I can't remember the flight number.

N145UA was the only SP ever placed in the new United colors.

Sunil
 
Guest

RE: 747 As Flying Observatory

Sun May 25, 2003 10:45 pm

Dear GDB:
Most of them were based West Coast with PanAm, I was based JFK and MIA so did not fly them much at all, the SP was nice to handle for max altitude capability, but not as pleasant (shall I say "stable") as the 100/200 -
xxx
We had a run non-stop JFK-BAH which I flew occasionally, by chance we had extra pilots, because the flight was about 14 hours long... Now with Argentina, flew extra long range with our 747-287 with 10 tanks (7Q engines), they are, as far as range, as good as the SP were. We had a SP in Argentina (ex BNF) but actually our 200s could nearly handle same flights with better payload. So they got rid of the SP hand flew the SP routes with... 200s...
xxx
Happy contrails  Smile
(s) Skipper
 
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United_fan
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RE: 747 As Flying Observatory

Sun May 25, 2003 11:01 pm

Did anyone get the Quicktime videos to work ? I tried them at home & work and they don't. I did install Quicktime!
Champagne For My Real Friends,and Real Pain For My Sham Friends
 
BlatantEcho
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RE: 747 As Flying Observatory

Mon May 26, 2003 6:23 am

Watching it now United_Fan, it takes a while to load, but it works fine.

George
They're not handing trophies out today
 
aloges
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RE: 747 As Flying Observatory

Mon May 26, 2003 7:21 am

An interesting project, especially since there's a lot of information in German available!  Big grin By the way, does anyone know if they're really going to expose the entire telescope bay to the air in flight? I still wonder if the device and the airframe could withstand the turbulences/wake. On the other hand, what could they put there? Glass would be too delicate and probably to heavy... Any ideas?
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.
 
POSITIVE RATE
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RE: 747 As Flying Observatory

Mon May 26, 2003 10:48 am

>>>>>>>By the way, does anyone know if they're really going to expose the entire telescope bay to the air in flight? I still wonder if the device and the airframe could withstand the turbulences/wake. On the other hand, what could they put there? Glass would be too delicate and probably to heavy... Any ideas?


I was thinking the exact same thing. I highly doubt the telescope will be directly exposed to the slipstream, that would be impossible at 500MPH and 45,000+ feet. More than likely it will be some kind of silicate compound or special glass.

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