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2011: NASA and the German Aerospace Agency spent 2008-2010 completing the testing and evaluation of SOFIA. On Dec. 18, 2010, the observatory fully opened its telescope cavity door in flight for the first time. This was followed by the "First Light" flight, when the telescope made observations at altitude for the first time on May 26, 2010. At the end of the year, SOFIA made its first science flight on Nov. 30, 2010. In 2011, SOFIA began a science target observation period known as "Basic Science" observing star forming regions, planets, galaxies, comets, and the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. (NASA/Jim Ross)

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