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Fri, Jan 11, 2019

Partial Government Shutdown Grounds NASA's SOFIA Airplane

Has Been Unable To Fly Since Shutdown Began December 22

The partial government shutdown has forced NASA to stop flying its SOFIA airplane, a modified Boeing 747 which carries a 2.5 meter (8.2-foot) telescope mounted in its fuselage.

The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has been grounded since December 22 when the shutdown began, according to Harold Yorke, director of SOFIA science mission operations at the Universities Space Research Association. Speaking at a town hall session held at the 233rd Meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in Seattle January 8, Yorke apologized to the principal investigators who had been scheduled to fly during the shutdown.

Space News reports that the grounding stands in contrast with NASA's spacecraft missions, which continues operation of "tracking, operation and support" of satellites "for safety and protection of life and property," according to the agency's shutdown plan.

Yorke said that it will take about a week after the shutdown ends for the program to resume flights due to the time needed to prepare the airplane and its instruments. He said at that point, "we will be rethinking the rest of Cycle 6 to see how we can replan and perhaps recover some of this lost time.”

(Image from file)

FMI: Source report

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