Airbus reported on September 4 that Airbus Perlan Mission II, the world’s first initiative to send an engineless aircraft to the edge of space, made history on September 3 in the Patagonia region of Argentina by soaring to more than 52,000 ft (15,8 km) and setting a new world altitude record for gliding. Perlan 2, flown by Jim Payne and Morgan Sandercock, achieved this world record altitude with strong support from the ground crew.
It has marked a key step on the way towards an eventual target of 90,000 ft. To achieve this, the Perlan 2 has an ultralight construction of only 500kg when empty and a wingspan of 27m. Also, it has a pressurized cabin, an oxygen breathing system, and an emergency recovery parachute.Airbus Perlan has set a new record, beating the previous record (50,727 feet) reached in 2006. The trick was to fly in the right place at the right time.
An aircraft flew over the Andes mountains, that generate the world's highest "stratospheric mountain waves." Argentina is the place where the rising air currents can reach the stratosphere at a few times of the year. The 82-ft span pressurized aircraft was lifted to high altitude by stratospheric mountain waves which developed over South America. Perlan 2, flown by Jim Payne and Morgan Sandercock
"With every Airbus Perlan Mission II milestone, we continue to learn more about how we can fly higher, faster and cleaner. But we also learn that aviation still has the power to surprise us, thrill us, and motivate us to find new frontiers of endeavor," says Tom Enders, Airbus CEO. "Perlan's outstanding aviation success is the result of bold thinking. It's this kind of thinking that is the cornerstone of our vision for the future of Airbus, which we hope will inspire a new generation of aerospace explorers and innovators."
Since gliders don't have engines, they're ideal testbeds for studies on climate change and radiation exposure and other fields where you want relatively pristine conditions