Friday, January 22, 2010
On December 18, 2009, SOFIA made a successful test flight on which the telescope cavity door was opened fully while flying at an altitude of 35,000 feet. This is a huge success for the aircraft teams. That flight was followed on January 15, 2010, by a closed-door flight during which the telescope was "uncaged" and activated for the first time. That means the telescope was freed from it locking mechanism, which keeps the system rigid and motionless during takeoff and landing, and the telescope tracking and control system were tested. The tests were successful, which brings us much closer to the open-door nighttime flights with FORCAST installed!
Here are photos and movies of the open-door flight. Spectacular!