SOFIA Entering Operations Phase

In an article for the Space Review (1/21), Jeff Foust wrote about the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) based at the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility, an “example of a science project that is simple in concept but dauntingly complex in execution.” According to Foust, the issues developing SOFIA “are now largely” in the past. In a recent talk, Eddie Zavala, SOFIA program manager, said the project is “transitioning from a development phase to an operations phase” with routine science missions starting in the spring and four flights per week by the end of the year. Furthermore, “SOFIA officials said they were pleased by observatory’s performance in its early science phase, noting that about 30 papers have been published so far from data collected during those flights.” As special conference for SOFIA is now being planned for next year in the San Francisco Bay Area.