Perlan Mission II sets sail for Argentina to begin glider airplane flights aimed at edge of space
Herndon, Usa - Pilots will look for stratospheric mountain waves in Patagonia
The Perlan 2 stratospheric glider has gone to sea, departing the United States aboard a container ship on the first leg of a journey that will end in El Calafate, Argentina, by mid-August. The journey marks a transition from a successful six-month flight test program in Minden, Nevada, to mission flights in Argentina’s Patagonia region, where wind conditions will allow the team to begin high-altitude aerospace and climate research. The glider is a pressurized sailplane designed to ride updrafts called “Mountain waves” that, in certain regions near the north and south poles, can reach into the stratosphere. For a brief period in August and September every year, the weather in the Andes mountains near El Calafate is often just right to generate these elusive stratospheric mountain waves. Perlan 2 is designed to ride these waves up to 90,000 feet without requiring the two-person crew to wear pressure suits. Although this summer’s research program will likely focus on lower altitudes, project pilots may still break the world gliding altitude record of 50,671 feet, set in 2006 by Steve Fossett and Perlan Project founder Einar Enevoldson in the unpressurized Perlan 1 glider. Lacking an engine that would contaminate air samples, the Perlan 2 glider is able to collect data on upper-level weather patterns and the condition of the atmosphere, yielding new insights into climate change. The aircraft will carry experiments from earth scientists around the globe, as well as from school and university classrooms. Its flights in the upper atmosphere will also provide Airbus valuable data on high-altitude flight.
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