Airbus Perlan II set to fly to the edge of space - could pave the way for hypersonic planes

Airbus is leading the road map not just toward the future of Earth's air travel but also the possible aviation in Mars through an aircraft it calls Perlan II. The plane, which is a pressurized glider, is reportedly capable of reaching the edge of Earth's atmosphere.

Perlan II completed its first test flight several months ago, and Airbus just announced that it will attempt to reach its optimal cruising altitude of 90,000 feet this June 2016. If successful, it will be the world's first aircraft to do so in a sustained and level flight. What is interesting is that Perlan II is engineless and operates by merely riding what Airbus calls "mountain waves" or the air currents in certain mountainous regions which propel the aircraft to reach the stratosphere. In order to take off, the plane, which has a carbon fiber shell, has to be pulled by a tow plane and released once airborne.

Airbus states that Perlan II will be travelling the suborbital level and its pilots will have to wear a a rebreather system that is also used by astronauts. The Airbus glider's implications on the future of Mars aviation rests on the fact that it will be operating in the same atmospheric conditions as those found on the Red Planet. Actual suborbital space travel is expected to reveal insights into the dynamics of air travel on Mars.

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