How many B747s that used as Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) does NASA have?

Please include:

  • The number of B747 SCAs that are still in service.
  • The number of B747 SCAs that have already been retired (if any).
  • The number of B747 SCAs still to be delivered by Boeing (if any).
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ The shuttle was retired in 2011. Why would you expect that Boeing would still be delivering 747s to NASA in 2019? $\endgroup$
    – egid
    Mar 3, 2019 at 5:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Your title asks about NASA's 747s, but your question refers only to Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. To my knowledge, NASA has at least one 747 that was never involved in the Shuttle program. It's used as a flying observatory. Are you interested in this and any other non-shuttle aircraft? $\endgroup$ Mar 3, 2019 at 10:44
  • $\begingroup$ @ReddHerring, even I didn't mentioned B747 in the question body, people should understand that B747 is the only aircraft capable to carry the shuttle aircraft, plus one ever build Antonov AN-225, Mriya. But however, AN-225 is belong to Ukraine, not US. $\endgroup$ Mar 4, 2019 at 2:40
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'm confused. There are no plans for a new NASA spaceplane. What are you referring to? $\endgroup$
    – egid
    Mar 4, 2019 at 22:14
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @AirCraftLover The 747 and the AN-225 are NOT the only aircraft capable of carrying a shuttle, those are the aircraft chosen, The C-5 was a contender as well. Also STOP CHANGING YOUR QUESTION. Originally you asked how many 747s NASA had in it's possession. That's why I mentioned SOFIA along with the SCAs in the first place. It makes my answer off-topic. $\endgroup$
    – gwally
    Mar 5, 2019 at 12:08

1 Answer 1


747 SCA 905 NASA had two Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. One was a modified Boeing 747-123. The other a 747-100SR-46. The SCAs were used to ferry space shuttle orbiters from landing sites back to the launch complex at the Kennedy Space Center and also to and from other locations too distant for the orbiters to be delivered by ground transportation.

NASA 905, a Boeing 747-123 model has been retired. It is on display at Space Center Houston.

NASA 911 was the second SCA, a Boeing 747-100SR-46 version. It was retired and is on public display at the Joe Davies Heritage Airpark in Palmdale, California.

In all, NASA has been in possession of three Boeing 747s. The third was not an SCA, but an airborne observatory known as the Airborne observatory, Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). The aircraft is a Boeing 747SP-21 which is housed at the Armstrong Flight Research Center.

Currently, NASA lacks an active aircraft capable of carrying a Space Shuttle.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I just googled N905NA, and it's definitely not an SP. $\endgroup$
    – egid
    Mar 3, 2019 at 5:47
  • $\begingroup$ If I checked over the net many pictures of the B747 SCA, seems like SOFIA is not SCA. There is no support on the back where the shuttle aircraft will be mounted. $\endgroup$ Mar 4, 2019 at 2:34
  • $\begingroup$ As already indicated by that Wikipedia, SOFIA is a Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, not a shuttle carrier. Here is video of how it work: youtube.com/watch?v=Y18NYGlIukM. $\endgroup$ Mar 4, 2019 at 2:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Wow @AirCraftLover, I indicated there was only two SCAs, but NASA was in possession of three 747s and posted a list so that others could see the inventory of NASA aircraft. $\endgroup$
    – gwally
    Mar 4, 2019 at 3:00
  • $\begingroup$ Oh I see. Actually my focus is to the vertical stabilizer why is is required, as I was confused about the B747 SOFIA, I asked it in another question. But now it is confirmed that SOFIA is not an SCA. $\endgroup$ Mar 4, 2019 at 3:15

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