A German-built telescope is exposed during a flight of NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy 747SP on Dec. 18, 2009. Credit: Carla Thomas/NASA
On Dec. 18, NASA for the first time opened the doors of its Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy in flight.
The observatory, known by its acronym, SOFIA, is a modified Boeing 747 equipped with a 98-inch German-built infrared telescope and doors that open to expose the telescope in flight. The Dec. 18 flight included two minutes with the telescope doors fully opened to allow engineers to understand how air flows in and around the telescope.
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Dutch airline KLM has made the latest step in what appears to be a rush by airlines to demonstrate the use of alternative fuels. The airline made what it is calling the first passenger flight using biofuel.
KLM completed the flight with one of its Boeing 747s using a 50 percent biokerosene mix to fuel one of the airplane’s four engines. On board during the hour long flight over the Netherlands were about 40 people including journalists, politicians, and the Dutch director of the World Wildlife Fund. The flight was not a scheduled flight, just a demonstration of the ability to use of biofuels.
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