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.


Current Status:
#806Open (Next Activity 06/24/24: CoSMIR-H and MBARS Upload)
#809GEMx Flights (ends 06/28/24)

NASA operates two ER-2 aircraft as readily deployable high altitude sensor platforms to collect remote sensing and in situ data on earth resources, atmospheric chemistry and dynamics, and oceanic processes. The aircraft also are used for electronic sensor research and development, satellite calibration and satellite data validation. Operating at 70,000 feet (21.3 km) the ER-2 acquires data above ninety-five percent of the earth’s atmosphere. The aircraft also yields an effective horizon of 300 miles (480 km) or greater at altitudes of 70,000 feet. Consequently, ER-2 sensors acquiring earth imagery or conducting atmospheric sounding replicate spatial, spectral and atmospheric characteristics of data collected by earth observing sensors aboard orbiting satellites.

The end of life estimate of 2030 is coincident with the end of the Air Force U-2 program.

NASA Armstrong (Dryden) Flight Research Center
Conventional Aircraft
12.0 hours (payload and weather dependent)
Useful Payload: 
2,900 lbs
Gross Take-off Weight: 
40,000 lbs
Onboard Operators: 
1 (including flight crew)
Max Altitude: 
70,000 ft
Air Speed: 
410 knots
5,000 Nmi
30 kVA, (115 VAC at 400 Hz) 10kVA (28 VDC)
NASA SMD User Fee per Hour: 
Point(s) of Contact: 

John T. McGrath

Work: (661) 276-2588
Mobile: (661) 802-3566
Individual Aircraft Details: 

N806NA (NASA806) based at Palmdale/Bldg 703
  Year built: 1981
  Year entered ASP service: 1981

N809NA (NASA809) based at Palmdale/Bldg 703
  Year built: 1989
  Year entered ASP service: 1989