NASA Astronomical Observatory Passes Hurdle

June 15, 2006

The world's largest airborne astronomical observatory has passed a technical and programmatic review that could potentially lead to the continuation of the mission.

NASA's Program Management Council concluded that there were no insurmountable technical or programmatic challenges to the continued development of the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). The agency has developed a technically viable plan to proceed with the development of the SOFIA aircraft, subject to the identification of appropriate funding offsets.

Earlier this year, the decision had been made to discontinue funding in fiscal year 2007 as a result of technical, programmatic, and budget challenges affecting the program. The NASA Program Management Council is chaired by NASA Associate Administrator Rex Geveden and comprised of NASA headquarters and center senior management.

"We placed the program on hold last February because of programmatic and technical issues," said Geveden. "Since that time, we have thoroughly reviewed the program and now are confident that SOFIA can resolve those issues. However, it is not yet clear whether SOFIA represents the best investment of space science funding, and we will need to consider funding options and sources before we decide to continue the mission."

SOFIA has been under development since 1996 as an airborne astronomical observatory consisting of a 2.5-meter aperture telescope permanently installed in a specially-modified Boeing 747 aircraft. The aircraft, fitted with an open-port telescope provided through a partnership with the German Aerospace Center, will provide routine access to space observations in several parts of the spectrum beyond what is visible to the eye.

Source: NASA

Explore further: NASA missions have their eyes peeled on Pluto

Related Stories

NASA missions have their eyes peeled on Pluto

July 10, 2015

What's icy, has "wobbly" potato-shaped moons, and is arguably the world's favorite dwarf planet? The answer is Pluto, and NASA's New Horizons is speeding towards the edge of our solar system for a July 14 flyby. It won't ...

SOFIA Begins 2015 Southern Hemisphere Science Flights

June 22, 2015

NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, departed from Christchurch, New Zealand at 6:20 pm local time June 19 for the first of 15 planned Southern Hemisphere deployment science flights.

NASA satellites catch 'growth spurt' from newborn protostar

March 24, 2015

Using data from orbiting observatories, including NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, and ground-based facilities, an international team of astronomers has discovered an outburst from a star thought to be in the earliest phase ...

SOFIA airborne observatory begins 2015 science campaign

January 14, 2015

The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, Program began its third season of science flights on Jan. 13, 2015. SOFIA is NASA's next generation flying observatory and is fitted with a 2.5-meter (100-inch) ...

NASA begins testing of new spectrograph on SOFIA observatory

June 3, 2014

(Phys.org) —Astronomers are eagerly waiting to begin use of a new instrument to study celestial objects: a high-resolution, mid-infrared spectrograph mounted on NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), ...

Recommended for you

Dense star clusters shown to be binary black hole factories

July 29, 2015

The coalescence of two black holes—a very violent and exotic event—is one of the most sought-after observations of modern astronomy. But, as these mergers emit no light of any kind, finding such elusive events has been ...

Image: Hubble sees a dying star's final moments

July 31, 2015

A dying star's final moments are captured in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The death throes of this star may only last mere moments on a cosmological timescale, but this star's demise is still quite ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.