The Perlan 2 glider, an engineless aircraft designed to reach the edge of space, will – weather permitting – attempt its first flight Wednesday, Sept. 23, at Robert’s Field at Redmond Municipal Airport in Oregon.
This is the first test flight for the Perlan 2 glider, which will attempt to set a new world altitude record for any airplane in 2016, and will do it without an engine.
The glider has been developed by The Perlan Project, a volunteer-run, nonprofit endeavor headed by leaders in aerospace and engineering, supported by Airbus Group and a group of other sponsors that includes Weather Extreme Ltd., United Technologies, and BRS Aerospace.
This will be the first of many flights over the coming year as the Airbus Perlan Mission II team prepares to take the aircraft to the edge of space at 90,000 feet in Argentina, according to officials with the project.
Next year’s flight is expected to exceed even the altitudes achieved by the U-2 and the SR-71, they add.
The Perlan 2 is a pressurized sailplane designed to ride air currents to the edge of space where the air density is less than 2% of what it is at sea level. It will carry a crew of two, plus scientific instruments. The mission will also provide lessons in how aircraft might operate in the thin atmosphere of Mars, officials noted.
In Perlan Mission I, Steve Fossett and Einar Enevoldson flew the Perlan 1 research glider to 50,772 feet, a new record altitude for gliders, in the mountain waves at El Calafate, Argentina, on Aug. 30, 2006. The Perlan 1 is now on permanent display at the Seattle Museum of Flight.