The weird airplane built to carry spacecraft
Added on Mon January 11th, 2021
The Airbus Beluga, Boeing Dreamlifter, Antonov AN-225 is the biggest aircraft in the world, designed to carry extremely large cargo, such as parts of other planes.
The history of this type of airplane began in the 1960’s. NASA was trying to figure out a way of moving objects that were very light but very large from one side of the USA to the other. In 1962, a new aircraft solved the problem with the widest cargo hold ever built, at almost 20 feet in diameter. It was called Pregnant Guppy. It was the only aircraft in the world capable of transporting the upper stage of a Saturn rocket for the Apollo program.
Pregnant Guppy was modernised in 1965 and the new version was called Super Guppy. The new plane was also bigger — 14 extra feet in length and a cargo bay diameter of 25 feet — and its engines were upgraded to more powerful and lighter versions. It remained in service with NASA for 32 years.
In the following years, the Super Guppy was modified and other aircraft with different technology were created. In addition, these models were acquired by Airbus company.
In recent years, NASA has been proactively updating some of the plane’s old systems to more modern ones before they even start to break. Starting in the late 2000s, the new plane has been used to ship components of the new Orion spacecraft, which NASA plans to use for future manned missions to the Moon and Mars. And it’s still very much in use today.
A flight engineer is required in addition to two pilots, and particularly during take-off and landing those three crew members are operating in very close coordination.
Read more on CNN Blog.
Share this news on:
< Go Back