The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is a joint U.S./German Project to develop and operate a 2.5-meter infrared airborne telescope in a Boeing 747-SP that flies in the stratosphere at altitudes as high as 45,000 and is capable of observations from 0.3 μm to 1.6 mm with an average transmission greater than 80 percent. SOFIA will be staged out of the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center aircraft operations facility at Palmdale, CA and the SOFIA Science Mission Operations Center (SSMOC) will be located at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffet Field, CA. First science flights will begin in 2010 and a full operations schedule of more than 100 8 to 10 hour flights per year will be reached by 2014. The observatory is expected to operate until the mid 2030's. SOFIA will initially fly with eight focal plane instruments that include broadband imagers, moderate resolution spectrographs that will resolve broad features due to dust and large molecules, and high resolution spectrometers capable of studying the kinematics of molecular and atomic gas lines at km/s resolution. We describe the SOFIA facility and outline the opportunities for observations by the general scientific community, future instrumentation developments, and operations collaborations. The operational characteristics of the SOFIA first-generation instruments are summarized and we give several specific examples of the types of scientific studies to which these instruments are expected to make fundamental scientific contributions. Additional information about SOFIA is available at http://www.sofia.usra.edu.