NASA’s Super Guppy makes stop at HSV this week

super guppy
‘Super Guppy’ Makes a Special Delivery (NASA, Marshall, 03/26-27/14)” by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

NASA’s Super Guppy aircraft arrived at the Huntsville International Airport Monday with some pretty interesting cargo in tow. The cargo aircraft landed at HSV to make a special delivery to Marshall Space Flight Center.

The unique aircraft came to the Rocket City carrying the heat shield that protected Orion’s crew module during its flight on Artemis I. Here’s why:

The Super Guppy’s cargo

Super Guppy
The NASA cargo aircraft brought the heat shield that protected Orion’s crew module during its flight on Artemis I. (NASA)

The Super Guppy — NASA’s one-of-a-kind, turboprop-powered aircraft — ferried the heat shield from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to Huntsville Regional Airport for transport to the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

Technicians at Marshall will use the center’s specialized milling tool to remove the heat shield’s outer layer of ablative material, a protective coating called Avcoat, as part of routine post-flight analysis.

About the Super Guppy

Super Guppy
‘Super Guppy’ Makes a Special Delivery (NASA, Marshall, 03/26-27/14)” by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Anyone who saw the aircraft make its stop at HSV knows what an unusual sight the Super Guppy is. But its unique design is fully functional.

Although there are other aircraft capable of carrying more weight than the Super Guppy, very few come close to its internal dimensions. Boasting an immense cargo area that is 25 feet in diameter and 111 feet long, the Super Guppy can carry items that are virtually impossible to fit inside other cargo aircraft.

The aircraft has a unique hinged nose that opens 110 degrees, permitting full frontal cargo loading. A control lock and disconnect system at the fuselage break allows the nose to be opened and closed without disrupting the flight or engine control rigging.

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Michael Seale
Michael Seale
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