Perlan 2 reaches milestone |

Perlan 2 reaches milestone

Staff Reports
The Perlan 2 glider is on display in its new hangar at the Minden Airport Wednesday.
Brad Coman |

An experimental glider that is housed at Minden-Tahoe Airport has begun the first phases of testing.

The Airbus Perlan Mission 2 reached a milestone by starting the testing of pressurized flights.

The Perlan Mission is a glider that will make history by soaring to the edge of space, about 90,000 feet.

The pilots won’t be wearing space suits, which is why having a pressurized flight is important. The success validates that the crew will be safe in atmospheric conditions similar to those on Mars.

The bulky pressure suits hampered previous efforts to soar to the stratosphere in the unpressurized Perlan 1.

The crew will be breathing 100 percent oxygen from a rebreather system similar to what astronauts use in space.

The Perlan 2 is currently housed at the Minden-Tahoe airport in a hangar courtesy of Dennis Tito, the first person to commercially travel to space.

Minden was chosen as the test flight area because the mountain wave helps gliders reach new heights and understand turbulence.

Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders worked alongside the volunteer flight test team in order to reach the milestone of pressurized flights.

“This aircraft will fly in a region of our atmosphere where no other aircraft has operated for sustained periods, and in doing so it will change our fundamental understanding of how our atmosphere works,” Enders said. “But we also hope it will change people’s thinking about what is possible, and inspire a new generation of aerospace pioneers to push beyond their limits.”