Super Guppy: NASA's new wonder plane
NASA's super-sized plane can carry 26 tonnes of spaceship parts and still travel at 290 mph
London: It might look like a giant whale floating in the sky, but this super-size plane is Nasa’s answer to shipping spacecraft components around the world. Dubbed Super Guppy, the aircraft can swallow other planes whole and has played a vital role in missions including Gemini and Skylab.
The Aero Spacelines Super Guppy was first created in 1962 as a successor to the aptly-named Pregnant Guppy cargo aircraft.
Pregnant Guppy helped achieve President Kennedy's goal of getting to the moon by the end of the 1960s. Without Pregnant Guppy, the only other way to get the Apollo rocket stages from California to Florida was on a slow boat through the Panama Canal.
The Pregnant Guppy was so successful that ASI built a second larger Guppy for larger, heavier loads. There have been five Super Guppies built today, helping move spacecraft parts and fuel to vital locations.
Nasa describes the craft, which looks like it shouldn’t be able to fly, as ‘an innovative composite rocket fuel tank.’ Equipment and fuel is loaded and unloaded via a hinged nose at the front of the huge plane.