Few realize the sheer size and weight of spacecraft components NASA has to lug around for testing, launch, and production. Most everything including rover, satellite, telescope, and International Space Station (ISS) parts are built on a grand scale, and require an equally formidable and out-sized transportation system. This is where NASA’s Super Guppy Turbine (SGT) cargo aircraft comes into play.
Manufactured by UTA Industries in France, this beast of a cargo plane “measures 143 feet long and 37 feet tall, with a 156 foot wingspan.” Depending on the duration and speed of the flight, the SGT can carry 26 tons (52,500 lb) at 290 mph for approximately 564 miles, or 16,000 pounds for approximately 2,000 miles.
Due to budget cuts and a downsized NASA space program, only one of four SGTs are currently in service. Funding was secured thanks to payment by the European Space Agency in exchange for joint transportation uses.
Check out the following video to see this monster in action:
Image credit: NASA/MSFC/Emmett Given