Press Release

NASA and University of North Dakota Sign DC-8 Agreement

By SpaceRef Editor
June 2, 2005
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NASA and University of North Dakota Sign DC-8 Agreement

NASA has signed a cooperative agreement with the University of North Dakota (UND), Grand Forks, to house and operate the agency’s DC-8 jet aircraft. The purpose of the agreement is to create a National Suborbital Education and Research Center (NSERC) at the university with the DC-8 suborbital laboratory as the centerpiece.

The agreement is intended to expand the science conducted using the DC-8 and enhance hands-on educational opportunities for students. The agreement is valued at $25 million over a five year period. Transfer of the aircraft to the university is targeted for fall 2005, pending completion of a safety review. The aircraft will be housed at the Grand Forks Air Force Base.

“We are extremely pleased to reach this agreement with the University of North Dakota,” said Ghassem Asrar, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, Washington. “The DC-8 is a national asset, and we look forward to expanding its use in both the educational and research communities.”

“We are delighted UND will be operating NASA’s DC-8, a premier scientific resource, for the benefit of the entire world,” said university president Charles Kupchella. “This is a natural collaboration because of the strengths, abilities, and interests of our science and educational programs in environmental, atmospheric, aviation, and engineering sciences.”

The DC-8 has been part of NASA science programs since 1986. It has supported satellite validation, Earth science studies, and the development of remote sensing techniques for space-based observing systems. It has operated from several NASA centers and deployed worldwide to support research including ozone depletion, tropical rainforest ecology, hurricane studies, and ice sheets. Its most recent campaign was to New England last January to support arctic ozone studies and validation of NASA’s Aura satellite.

UND is home to the Northern Great Plains Center for People and the Environment, which will have oversight for the NSERC. The university is also home to the largest collegiate aviation program in the United States. It maintains and operates 120 aircraft throughout the country, including 80 aircraft in Grand Forks. The aircraft support aviation, atmospheric sciences, space studies and computer science education activities.

Through the agreement, the university will maintain, operate and manage educational and science flight missions. NASA retains operational control responsibilities including safety, airworthiness and mission management. For more information about NASA and agency programs on the Internet, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.