Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy

The Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) will be a 2.5 meter,
optical/infrared/sub-millimeter telescopemounted in a Boeing 747, to be used for
many advanced astronomical observations performed at stratospheric altitudes.
The Observatory will accommodate installation of different focal plane
instruments, with in-flight accessibility, provided by investigators selected
from the international science community. The Observatory objective is to have
an operational lifetime in excess of 20 years.

The SOFIA project is in the early full-scale stage. The start of detailed system
design is anticipated in the Fall of 1996. The German Space Agency (DARA) is a
partner with NASA in the SOFIA project. DARA will provide the telescope and NASA
will provide the rest of the facility including the 747 aircraft, aircraft
modifications, on-board mission control system, ground facilities and support
equipment, overall management, system integration and operations.

The SOFIA project is currently moving forward with evaluation of proposals for
prime contracts for the U.S. and German portions of the program. Final approval
for program implementation has been received from the U.S. Congress and NASA
management. The observatory will begin flight operations by the year 2001.

Category: Science