SOFIA has recently been the subject of two major back-to-back reviews: The SOFIA Operations and Maintenance Efficiency Review (SOMER) and the SOFIA 5-Year Flagship Mission Review (FMR). For the SOMER, a team of experts in operating and maintaining aircraft looked at these aspects of the SOFIA program, whereas for the FMR, a separate panel (of scientists augmented by two members of the SOMER team) thoroughly reviewed science operations and SOFIA’s future science outlook. The two NASA-commissioned reports will not be made public; nevertheless, the recommendations to NASA will result in some visible changes to SOFIA’s mode of operation. Even the preparation for the reviews, in particular for the FMR, led to an introspective study by the SOFIA Program that resulted in a proposal to the FMR panel for the science vision and science operations of SOFIA for the next 3-5 years, extending to its projected lifetime until 2034. Many of these FMR proposal initiatives were endorsed by the FMR panel. Many changes are still in the early planning phases.
SOFIA’s Vision for the Future