The new Perlan 2 glider joined the Airbus A350 XWB at EAA AirVenture this week. The pressurized, two-seat glider has been designed to fly up to 90,000 feet, at the edge of space, where it will explore the science of stratospheric mountain waves that affect the global climate. This will require the engineering of a spacecraft, according to the Perlan 2 project, with glider wings that can fly in less than 3 percent of normal air density and at temperatures of minus-70 degrees C. The aircraft has a wingspan of 84 feet and weighs 1,800 pounds.These missions will set new records for wing-borne flight, exceeding the altitude records set by the U-2 and SR-71.
The Perlan Project began in 1992, and joined Airbus last year. After completing its flights at 90,000 feet, the group plans to set a goal of exploring the stratosphere up to 100,000 feet. Those flights, expected in 2019, will require new, transonic wings. Flight operations also will be extended to exploring the Polar Vortex in the northern hemisphere.