Aircraft List

The NASA Airborne Science Program provides a unique set of NASA supported aircraft that benefit the earth science community. These manned and unmanned aircraft carry the sensors that provide data to support and augment NASA spaceborne missions.

Reminder: All investigators with approved or pending proposals from the Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES) announcements that have a requirement for a NASA Airborne Science platform/instrument, must submit a Flight Request. The Flight Request is also the method to acquire an estimate if your proposal requires a cost estimate for Airborne Science support. However, for investigators proposing to participate on large, multi-aircraft experiments, a single Flight Request will be submitted for each mission by the Project Manager or Project Scientist. The Science Operations Flight Request System (SOFRS) can be reached directly at

Non-NASA Aircraft
NASA instrumentation may fly on non-NASA Federal aircraft as well as academic and commercial platforms for which agreements for access by SMD investigators are in place, in process, or have recently been approved by NASA Aviation Management as airworthy and safe to operate. For more information, please review the current ASP Call Letter for further requirements and guidance. Please note that in addition to filing the required Flight Request, investigators are responsible for contacting vendors to determine if the platform meets the requirements of the proposed scientific investigation. It is also the responsibility of the investigator to ensure that before any preliminary test flights or actual data collection flights utilizing NASA personnel, instruments or funds occur, all vendors successfully complete a NASA airworthiness/flight safety review in accordance with NASA Aviation Safety Policy for Non-NASA Aircraft.

C-130H - WFF

Current Status:
Post Mission Maintenance (ends 07/18/24)

The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s (GSFC) Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) Aircraft Office operates a NASA C-130H Hercules (N436NA) research/cargo aircraft to support airborne scientific research activities and movement of NASA cargo. The C-130H is used to perform scientific research, provide logistics support on an as-needed basis to other NASA missions, and can be used as a technology test bed for new airborne and satellite instrumentation. The aircraft is also available to support NASA range surveillance and recovery operations as needed. The C-130H is a self-sufficient aircraft that can operate from short field civilian and military airports to remote areas of the world in support of scientific studies and other operations.

The C-130H is a four-engine turboprop aircraft designed for maximum payload capacity. The C-130H, NASA 436, has been modified to support airborne science related activities as well. The aircraft has three 16 inch diameter nadir ports. Two 20x30 inch rectangular and four 10 inch diameter fuselage windows. A zenith port exist in the flight station for small instruments as well as sonobuoy/dropsonde tubes on the cargo ramp. An experimental power system is installed in the aircraft capable of producing 115VAC 60Hz, 400Hz and 28VDC. The aircraft contains a state of the art avionics and communications suite to support a variety of world wide missions. The aircraft also is capable of carrying 6 cargo pallets that can be utilized to carry cargo or modified to support instrument racks and seats. The large rear cargo door/ramp allows for easy installation of large instruments, payloads and cargo. The aircraft is equipment with external fuel tanks to increase range and duration. A cargo airdrop system is also installed in the aircraft to perform cargo drops from a variety of altitudes which has been demonstrated numerous time supporting the Commercial Crew Program parachute airdrop testing. 

The GSFC/WFF Aircraft Office is committed to providing safe, reliable, and cost effective platforms for airborne research and other flight activities.

* The performance numbers presented below are based on a 25,000lb payload. Heavier payloads may reduce aircraft range and duration. Maximum Take Off Weight is 175,000lbs however, 155,000lbs is the Maximum Normal Take Off Weight. 

** Airspeed indicated below is Knots True Airspeed (KTAS).


NASA GSFC Wallops Flight Facility
Conventional Aircraft
11.0 hours (payload and weather dependent)
Useful Payload: 
36,000 lbs
Gross Take-off Weight: 
155,000 lbs
Onboard Operators: 
24 (dependent on aircraft configuration)
Max Altitude: 
33,000 feet (payload weight and weather dependent)
Air Speed: 
320 knots
3,200 Nmi
90KVA of 115VAC 60Hz & 400Hz; 28VDC
Point(s) of Contact: 

Mike Cropper

Work: (757) 824-2140
Individual Aircraft Details: 

N436NA (NASA 436) based at Wallops Island, VA
  Year built: 1986
  Year entered ASP service: 2015