Nichelle Nichols will be flying on NASA’s SOFIA mission this September.
According to NASA, SOFIA “is the largest airborne observatory in the world, capable of making observations that are impossible for even the largest and highest ground-based telescopes.”
Using a modified Boeing 747-SP, SOFIA uses a “2.5 meter gyro-stabilized telescope” to make observations ground-based telescopes simply can’t.” This includes “star birth and death, formation of new solar systems, planets, comets and asteroids in our solar system, and black holes at the center of galaxies.”
“SOFIA does not, sadly, fly into space,” said Nichols. “It’s an airborne observatory, a massive telescope mounted inside a 747 flying as high as is possible. I was on a similar flight, the first airborne observatory, back in 1977. It’s an amazing experience, you get a totally different perspective than from Earth. I do hope someone gets some great pictures.”