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Mon, Sep 14, 2015

Perlan 2 Glider Getting Set For First Flight

Hopes To Eventually Fly To 90,000 Feet Of Altitude

The Perlan 2 glider is being prepped for a low-altitude flight next week, but the team has their sights set much higher.

The newspaper The Bulletin reports that the first flight for the glider, which resembles something built for Virgin Galactic by Scaled Composites, is planned for Wednesday. The altitude will be limited to about 5,000 feet as the aircraft is put through a series of system checks.

But the Perlan 2 team has much loftier aspirations. They hope to eventually fly the glider to an altitude of 90,000 feet ... higher than any other manned fixed-wing aircraft ... and shatter the existing record of 50,722 feet set in 2006 by Steve Fossett and Perlan Project founder Einar Enevoldson, a former NASA test pilot.

Doug Perrenod, the project coordinator for the Perlan 2 launch, said one of the main problems faced by the team is pressurization, as there is no engine to power pumps that would pressurize the cockpit. While he did not elaborate on how the cockpit will maintain pressure, he did say that the life support system resembles rebreather systems used by SCUBA divers.

The team received an experimental airworthiness certificate for the glider on September 4, according to the project blog. The Perlan 2 glider will conduct a series of test flights from Redmond Airport in central Oregon over the next several months, and Perrenod says they will probably achieve an altitude in excess of 50,000 feet. The record attempt is currently planned for March or April of next year, and the team will travel to Argentina for the attempt, Perrenod said.

(Artist's rendering of Perlan 2 glider in flight via Facebook)

FMI: www.perlanproject.org

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