5 story tall NASA cargo plane lands in Grand Junction

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- You may have seen it flying into Grand Junction Regional Airport Tuesday morning. It’s not a spaceship, but it does belong to NASA, it’s called the Super Guppy.

"I don't personally know anyone who's seen one,” said Angela Padalecki, Executive Director with the Grand Junction Regional Airport.

It’s almost 150 feet long and 50 feet tall.

"It has about 25-foot diameter inside,” said Gregory Johnson, Flight Operations Director and pilot of the NASA Super Guppy.

It’s based out of El Paso, Texas, but flies all across the country transporting space equipment, and even Air Force planes.

That’s why it’s here, to pick up a T-38 jet. It can carry up to 40,000 lbs.

It may be big, but it’s slow for a plane.

"We cruise around 250 miles an hour at altitude but down low we are only doing only maybe around 120,” said Johnson.

It’s the nation’s one and only Super Guppy.

"The Guppy is a KC-97 that was modified to carry large S2B parts for the Apollo program so NASA used it for that,” said Johnson.

Landing for the first time in recent history at Grand Junction Regional Airport.

"Oh it’s so fun and exciting, and it's a beautiful day,” said Padalecki.

It’s here to transport a the T-38 jet, and it already has one inside.

"There’s an aircraft that had maintenance issues upon arrival so this is pretty standard for them, they are coming to pick it up,” said Padalecki.

Transporting not only planes, but NASA space equipment too.

"Generally it's space hardware, so we are moving the Orion heat shield for the Orion space capsule then, and parts for the space launch system called SLS,” said Johnson.

The Guppy can carry about 40,000 lbs. but more cargo, means less gas, and ultimately less distance it can travel.

After this stop at the base of the Bookcliffs, it's heading back home to El Paso, Texas.

"It’s great to fly the airplane and support a space business and a department of defense,” said Johnson.

Grand Junction Regional airport says it takes a lot of planning before this plane could land. They need to make sure there isn’t any debris on the runway and make sure there’s enough parking available.

They say it should take off Wednesday morning, heading back to El Paso, Texas.

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