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.

"Stargazer" L-1011 Carrier Aircraft

Orbital Sciences Corporation operates and maintains a modified L-1011. The aircraft has a maximum mission capability of carrying an external payload (or research platform) weighing up to 52,000 pounds to an altitude of 42,000 feet, at speeds up to Mach .86. It has a nominal flight endurance of 10 hours and a range of 4200 nautical miles. Orbital’s L-1011 has been proven in flight during live launch operations and extensive flight testing. The on board launch panel operator station enables monitoring of the external payload. The station is easily adaptable to support specialized instrumentation for other scientific/research applications. All modifications and testing of the L-1011 were performed to FAA part 25 (transport category) standards. Orbital’s L-1011 is a flexible cost effective airborne platform that can be deployed worldwide to satisfy customer requirements.

Conventional Aircraft
10 hours (payload and weather dependent)
Useful Payload: 
70,000 lbs
Gross Take-off Weight: 
466,000 lbs
Max Altitude: 
42,000 MSL
Air Speed: 
569 knots
4,200 Nmi
60Hz and 400 Hz AC, 28 VDC