NASA Ames Research Center (MARCH 7, 2018) – Millennium is excited to be delivering engineering expertise to NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) instrument. SOFIA is a highly specialized airborne observatory built on a Boeing 747SP wide-body platform customized to carry a 106-inch reflecting telescope designed for infrared astronomy. The plane makes observations from ~41,000 feet altitude in order to rise above most of the water vapor in Earth’s atmosphere that blocks some infrared wavelengths from the ground. At this altitude, nearly 85% of the full infrared range is available for observation.
Millennium engineers lead the Cavity Environmental Control System (CECS) upgrade project. The project is developing new CECS software and relocating the CECS computer and electrical hardware. The project requires international cooperation with Lufthansa Technik and NASA Quality Assurance to support the installation of the mechanical structures for the upgrade and to verify the new CECS system is operating properly after significant modifications to the aircraft wiring.
The SOFIA flying telescope aircraft is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center, DLR. NASA’s Ames Research Center manages the SOFIA program, science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, and the German SOFIA Institute (DSI) at the University of Stuttgart. The aircraft is maintained and operated from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Palmdale, California.
On upcoming missions, Millennium will deliver key engineering and science expertise as NASA prepares for exciting new missions, including a study of Eta Carinae, the most luminous and massive stellar system within 10,000 light-years of Earth that is expected to eventually supernova; a special viewing of Titan’s occultation of a distant star to study seasonal changes in the atmosphere of Saturn’s largest moon; and the Tarantula Nebula mapping project of a nebula forming thousands of stars simultaneously to determine if the star factory is still functioning or if the process has been stunted.