The Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a refurbished Boeing 747 SP with a 2,7 m Telescope onboard, is a flying observatory. In November 2010 first scientific observations have been made. When routine operations have started, Astronomers will take off with SOFIA several times a week, for example in order to see the development of young stars and planetary systems or the examine the center of our home galaxy, the Milky Way, in detail.
The infrared light of these objects, in which the scientists are particularly interested, is only partially visible from the ground, because especially the water vapour in the earth's athomsphere is impassable for this radiation. However, in an altitude of circa 13 kilometers the athmospheric influence is already negligible, and therefore nothing hinders the observation of the astronomical objects in the infrared spectrum.
The telescope was developed and built by the German Industry under the auspices of MT-Aerospace and Kayser Threde by order of the . This unique observation platform was jointly developed by the US-American and the DLR, who are also operating it together.