What else can a 747 carry?

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.


  1. 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. 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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