Cruising at 4,572 meters (15,000 feet), NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, flew for the first time in 2010, aboard a modified Boeing 747 with the telescope doors fully opened. SOFIA's telescope is designed to collect infrared light from a variety of astronomical objects.

Photograph courtesy NASA
  • On February 9, 1969, the first Boeing 747 aircraft took flight near Boeing’s Everett, Washington, production facility. At the time, the 747 was the largest civilian aircraft in the world. It had a wingspan of 59 meters (195 feet) and a length of 70 meters (231 feet). A single 747 could transport more than 500 passengers, depending on how the seats were arranged. The aircraft featured jet-engine technology that had never been used for passenger travel.
    The 1960s were a time when air travel became increasingly common. New, larger planes were required for moving more people without crowding the skies with many small planes. These new “jumbo jets” helped usher in an era of globalization— the flow of people, goods, and ideas around the world. Planes like the 747 allowed more connections between distant parts of the world, for both commuters and cargo
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    aircraft Noun

    vehicle able to travel and operate above the ground.

    cargo Noun

    goods carried by a ship, plane, or other vehicle.

    civilian Noun

    person who is not in the military.

    commute Verb

    to travel to and from specific places on a regular basis, usually for a specific purpose, such as employment.

    facility Noun

    a building or room that serves a specific function.

    globalization Noun

    connection of different parts of the world resulting in the expansion of international cultural, economic, and political activities.

    Encyclopedic Entry: globalization
    technology Noun

    the science of using tools and complex machines to make human life easier or more profitable.

    transport Verb

    to move material from one place to another.