Last week, a 747 took the Space Shuttle Endeavour on its final trip — a voyage to the California Science Center in Los Angeles. But that's not the only way 747s break away from the everyday task of hauling around airline passengers. Scientific American has a slide show of other amazing uses for these great big planes — from testing laser weapons to serving as a flying telescope.

5 Responses to “What else can a 747 carry?”

  1. digi_owl says:

    Ah yes, the cargo truck with wings. Never really intended for passenger transport, because everyone was working on supersonics for that at the time.

    Edit: said time being late 60s, early 70s. Yep, the basic airframe design has been flying for over 30 years.

  2. You could replace the hair-thin cable running into Hiro’s apartment with one filled with telephone books and encyclopedias power-diving into it every couple of minutes, forever.

  3. politeruin says:

    So it’s basically the modern thunderbird 2 for air transport. That was always my favourite, keep your dated 60s rocket ship fantasies and give me the workhorse of the sky.

  4. digi_owl says:

    My understanding is that they were considered the future when they first started designing them. But during prototype testing the supersonic shock wave was found to be a issue over populated areas. This, in combo with limited range, meant that they were only really viable over the Atlantic.

    Had they found a way to dampen the shock wave, and there is still research being done today, there would be a number of viable routes between cities in various parts of the world.

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