The Airbus Perlan Mission II is aiming to become the first powerless glider in the world to ever reach the edge of space, better known as the Kármán Line.
The glider is also expected to carry with it a bunch of South American engineers who wish to be the first ones present as the aircraft reaches the set altitude of 90,000 feet (27,000 metres).
The aim of this mission is to see if it is infact possible to send gliders into the upper atmosphere, both for scientific as well as recreational purposes.
In order to achieve this feat, the engineers are planning to use stratospheric mountain waves in combination with the polar vortex to push the aircraft upwards.
For those who don’t know, these mountain waves are essentially strong gusts of wind that rise upward from mountain ranges, thanks to the interaction between warm and cold air systems.
The glider will use it’s long wingspan of approximately 84-foot (25.6-metre) to interact with these winds, thus generating enough lift to push it towards space.
The polar vortex is expected to supplement this lift, in order to make sure there is no chance of missing the set course of flight for the aircraft.
All this while, the engineers will be sitting inside the pressurized cabin of the aircraft, going through all the data that will be collected during the flight.
This data will prove invaluable for future glider prototypes, like the Titan Aerobot, which aims to use a similar concept to explore other planets.
If nothing else, the fact that this will be the Highest Flight Of A Manned Wing Borne Aircraft is enough to get us excited about this experiment.
We just hope that the are successful, so that one day, we too could enjoy the thrill of touching outer space, even if for a few moments.