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-23 Sherpa - WFF

*** This aircraft is currently in flyable storage and requires maintenance to be reactivated ***

The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s (GSFC) Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) Aircraft Office operates the NASA C-23 Sherpa (N430NA) research/cargo aircraft available to support airborne science research. The C-23 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. This aircraft is also available to support range surveillance and recovery operations as needed. The C-23 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-23 is a two-engine turboprop aircraft designed to operate efficiently, under the most arduous conditions, in a wide range of mission configurations. The large square-section cargo hold, with excellent access at both ends (4 side fuselage doors and aft cargo ramp), and a 7,000 pound payload, offers ready flexibility to perform a variety of missions. The aircraft also has 22 cabin windows as well as a nose cargo area available for installations. An internal auxillary fuel tank is also available which is capable of extending the aircraft range to 1,000nm and 7 hours endurance.

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

Year of last major maintenance: 2017 (standard yearly maintenance)
Year of next major maintenance: 2020 (maintenance to reactivate the aircraft)

NASA GSFC Wallops Flight Facility
Conventional Aircraft
5.0 hours (payload and weather dependent)
Useful Payload: 
7,000 lbs
Gross Take-off Weight: 
27,100 lbs
Onboard Operators: 
Max Altitude: 
20,000 ft
Air Speed: 
190 knots
600 Nmi
115VAC, 28VDC
Point(s) of Contact: 

Mike Cropper

Work: (757) 824-2140