2016. Structural Modifications on Nasa’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy


SAWE Members get a $200 store credit each year.*

Become a SAWE Member

*Store credit coupon available at checkout, click the button in your shopping cart to apply the coupon.
Not applicable to SAWE textbooks and current conference technical papers.


T Schomin: 2016. Structural Modifications on Nasa’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. 1991.



The National Aeronautical Space Administration, Ames Research Center has established a need for an airborne observatory with a two and one-half (2.5) to three (3.0) meter class infrared telescope to improve their astronomy data gathering capability beyond that which is currently available with the C-141 Kuiper Airborne Observatory (KAO) 0.91 meter telescope. The new system envisioned by NASA and the international community of astronomers will be known as the ”Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy” (SOFIA). The airborne platform of choice for SOFIA is a modified Boeing 747SP. This paper contains a summary of the studies performed to validate the structural modifications to a 747SP for the SOFIA installation. Areas studied were: 1) the feasibility of maintaining fuselage structural integrity with a 180 inch by 200 inch cutout that serves as a telescope viewing port, 2) weight versus stiffness tradeoffs, and 3) optimizing aircraft range (loiter time) with weight versus strength. The design approach, design criteria, unique engineering problems, and engineering tools used in die first two study areas are presented.


SKU: Paper2016 Category: