NASA’s Super Guppy: Irreplaceable Aircraft

The transportation of oversized cargo has always been a tremendous problem for logistics planners in government and private industry. The physical limitations of railroad tunnels, narrow roads, low bridges, and power lines make overland shipment of such cargo extremely problematic, if not impossible. NASA's Super Guppy offers a practical and economical solution to these problems. Although there are other aircraft capable of carrying more weight than the Super Guppy, very few come close to its internal dimensions.

In order to carry Orion from New Orleans to Cape Canaveral, NASA recruited their Super Guppy aircraft. The Super Guppy has a cargo area that is 25 feet tall, 25 feet wide and 111 feet long. The jumbo plane can carry over 26 tons worth of cargo and is often used by NASA to ferry large components around the country that would take too long (or be impossible) to ship by land or by sea. The aircraft has a unique hinged nose that can open more than 200 degrees, allowing large pieces of cargo to be loaded and unloaded from the front. Those metrics easily beat that of many military-grade transport planes like the venerable C-130 Hercules (even the bigger variant of the Hercules has a cargo hold just half as long as the Super Guppy's, and the plane can carry up to about 22.5 tons).

NASA’s Super Guppy: Irreplaceable Aircraft

NASA’s Super Guppy: Irreplaceable Aircraft

NASA’s Super Guppy: Irreplaceable Aircraft

The Super Guppy’s history dates back to the Apollo program. It was used in the 1960’s to carry parts of the Saturn V rocket from California to Florida. The other option NASA had was to ship rocket stages through the Panama Canal, which would often take weeks or months longer.

The maximum payload for the Super Guppy is 52,500 pounds, with a maximum range at maximum payload at 564 miles. The Cruise Speed at 25,000 feet is 290 miles per hour. The maximum range with a payload of 16,000 pounds is 2,000 miles. The Super Guppy's cargo compartment has a usable volume of 39,000 cubic feet. Although it now operates as a Public Aircraft, the Super Guppy is a FAA certified design. This design has millions of miles of service, providing fast, economical transport for outsize cargo.

NASA’s Super Guppy: Irreplaceable AircraftNASA’s Super Guppy: Irreplaceable AircraftNASA’s Super Guppy: Irreplaceable Aircraft
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