The Super Guppy has never been to space, but it has a long history of helping NASA get there. The odd-body, oversize aircraft has helped transport components of the Gemini, Apollo, and Skylab missions, and more recently played a key role in the construction of the International Space Station.
Built from parts of Boeing's 377 Stratocruiser, including the wings, engines, lower fuselage, and tail, the modded Super Guppy is one weird-looking plane. It's hinged nose opens to easily load outsize cargo, making the craft a key transport of the delicate, massive components bound for space, ferrying parts and aircraft that just cannot be shipped any other way.
Here, two T-38s, NASA's classic training and chase planes, are being retired, and the SGT Super Guppy-Turbine -- the last of its kind still flying -- is swallowing the jets into its mammoth fuselage.
The T-38 trainers, the same type of jet which you may have seen accompanying the Space Shuttle Endeavor
as a chase plane on its final victory laps, are seen here being mounted onto a mobile transporter for loading aboard NASA's Super Guppy before lifting off to El Paso, Texas, for disassembly.