Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

NASA's Boeing 747-mounted telescope makes a stop at MSP Airport

It drew quite a crowd to the MSP viewing area.
Author:

Twin Cities aviation enthusiasts had a rare treat on Friday, when NASA's airborne telescope landed at Minneapolis-St. Paul International.

Called the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, the modified Boeing 747 carries a 106-inch reflecting telescope.

By cruising at altitudes of 38,000-45,000 feet, this puts it above 99 percent of the Earth's infrared-blocking atmosphere, "allowing astronomers to study the solar system and beyond in ways that are not possible with ground-based telescopes."

And of course, because it can land after every journey, its telescope can be recalibrated unlike deep-space telescopes.

Follow BMTN on Instagram

It was stopping at the Twin Cities airport to clear customs and refuel after a stay in Germany, with the German Aerospace Center having part-funded the craft.

Landing at around noon, it took off again at 4 p.m., bound for its base in Palmdale, California.

It led to a huge crowd at the MSP Airport viewing area, with the picture above and those below taken by Burnsville-based Jet Tip, which monitors unusual aircraft movements.

Next Up

u.s. attorney

Minnesotan sentenced after assaulting man with baseball bat

Marshall Wayne Boshey was sentenced to 30 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release.

Target store

Target's gift card discount is back, but for this weekend only

The fine print: for Target Circle members only (but membership is free).

Screen Shot 2020-06-15 at 7.11.05 AM

Minneapolis teen arrested in St. Cloud after fleeing police in stolen vehicle

The vehicle was stolen in a car-jacking in Minneapolis Thursday.

snow, blowing snow

Winter storm warnings issued with heavy snow set to slam MN

Parts of northern Minnesota could see more than a foot of snow, but there won't be much in the Twin Cities.

D'Angelo Russell

With KAT out, Timberwolves can't upset Nets

D'Angelo Russell stepped up but couldn't overcome Brooklyn's firepower.

Everson Griffen Vikings dot com

Everson Griffen confirms he has bipolar disorder

"I’ve been running from it a long time. I’m not ashamed of it anymore.”

Angela Renee Jones, St. Cloud murder suspect

St. Cloud suspect now charged in two local murder cases

Both murders happened within a day of each other in June.

st anthony 3 crop

Twin Cities police ask for help finding missing 16-year-old

Police say all her family and friends have been contacted, and none of them know where she is.

mpd suspect 12.3.21 - 1 - CROP

MPD releases photos of shooting suspect, asks for public's help

The man is wanted in connection with a fatal shooting that happened Wednesday evening.

redmons popcorn colbert 2

Support grows for Redmon's Popcorn after shop's sudden closure

The county also commented on the situation, saying it hopes to help owner Zack Redmon.

Related

unnamed (1)

Now flying from MSP Airport, a plane with a bathroom window

The first Airbus A220 flew into the Twin Cities on Thursday.

Screen Shot 2019-03-07 at 1.48.54 PM

MSP Airport named best in North America for 4th year in a row

The Twin Cities airport is the best for its size in the U.S.

CBS This Morning's Gayle King stops to praise MSP Airport bathrooms

The TV host was impressed by the women's facilities at the Twin Cities airport.

MSP Airport

Facial recognition now used for border screenings at MSP Airport

Passengers have the option to use the technology when arriving at MSP.

Delta

Passenger numbers fell 62% at MSP Airport in 2020

The Twin Cities airport was slammed by the COVID-19 pandemic.