What is better than a classic Boeing 747-100? One that carries a frek’n space shuttle. This is an epic video, but at the same time it is sad. This documents N905NA’s final flight as a Shuttle Carrier from LAX to Dryden Flight Research Facility completed on September 24, 2012. The second Shuttle Carrier (N911NA)  was retired on February 8, 2012.

NASA will continue to use N905NA to research reducing turbulence produced by larger aircraft.

BONUS: Video of both 747 shuttle carriers flying in formation

N905NA doing its job, carrying the shuttle Discovery in April 2012. Photo by jsmjr / Flickr.

N905NA doing its job, carrying the shuttle Discovery in April 2012. Photo by jsmjr / Flickr.

This 747-100 was originally delivered to American Airlines in 1970 as N9668. In 1974, NASA took ownership and was converted to a Shuttle Carrier.

From NASA’s website, the features that distinguish the two SCAs from standard 747 jetliners are:

  • Three struts with associated interior structural strengthening protrude from the top of the fuselage (two aft, one forward) on which the orbiter is attached.
  • Two additional vertical stabilizers, one on each end of the standard horizontal stabilizer, to enhance directional stability.
  • Removal of all interior furnishings and equipment aft of the forward No. 1 doors.
  • Instrumentation used by SCA flight crews and engineers to monitor orbiter electrical loads during the ferry flights and also during pre- and post-ferry flight operations.

Thanks to SpeedBirdHD for taking and sharing this video.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: david@airlinereporter.com

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1 Comment

RE: Future of NASA SCA 905 & 911. I saw this at http://www.nasa.gov/topics/nasalife/features/shuttle_museum.html It says towards the bottom: “both shuttle carrier aircraft will support NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) Boeing 747SP aircraft flying.” It looks like NASA uses the SCA to transport the Phantom Ray http://boeingblogs.com/bds/sightings/2010/12/phantom-ray-rides.html

One of the Controllers at LAX tower posted some great pics on his photoblog of 905 & Endeavour’s arrival and flybys…Check out the crowds!: http://fromthecontroltower.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-endeavour-has-landed.html

Is David going to try to get into the United hanger to see Endeavour on the 29th?

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