Our goal is to reach the edge of space and study how giant stratospheric mountain waves impact our planet’s weather. Mission 1 proved that the highest mountain waves could open the door to the edge of space for gliders. Mission 2 will use a pressurized glider to reach 90,000 feet.  Mission 3 will add transonic capabilities and reach 100,000 feet.



Applying aerospace technology and atmospheric research to fly a glider higher than any other manned aircraft has ever flown. In 2015/16 Perlan Mission II intends to set new altitude records by flying a purpose-built pressurized high-altitude glider (the Perlan 2) higher than any other manned wing borne aircraft has ever flown in sustained flight using stratospheric mountain waves and the polar vortex and in so doing harvest invaluable data about earth’s atmosphere and its ozone layer.


Aeronautical Exploration

Push the frontiers of flight by soaring into near space

Aerodynamic Advancement

Apply upper atmosphere understanding to improve high altitude and extra- planetary flight possibilities

Meteorological Research

Investigate the impact of stratospheric waves on global weather patterns and atmospheric chemistry


Inspire future generations to pursue careers in math, science and research


Based on the complete success of Perlan Mission I, proving Enevoldson’s thesis, Steve agreed to fund Perlan Mission II, building a pressurized cabin for a special sailplane to fly to 90,000 feet (27,432 meters).

On September 3, 2007, Steve Fossett disappeared while flying over the Sierra Nevada Mountains and his death was eventually confirmed. At the time of Steve’s passing, the structural and aerodynamic design of the fuselage of Perlan 2 had been completed, along with the aerodynamic design of the entire sailplane (glider). Unfortunately, both Steve Fossett and the funding for completion of Perlan Mission II were lost.

After Fossett's death, Morgan Sandercock provided funding to build the fuselage of the Perlan 2.

In 2010, Dennis Tito joined the Perlan Project as a pilot and the primary funder. With Dennis Tito's involvement, the project moved to the construction phase.

In July of 2014, Airbus Group became the title sponsor of Airbus Perlan Mission II.

The Airbus Perlan Mission II intends to set new altitude records by flying the Perlan 2 higher than any other manned wing borne aircraft has ever flown in sustained flight using stratospheric mountain waves and the polar vortex and in so doing harvest invaluable data about earth’s atmosphere and its ozone layer.

Perlan Project intends to use the Airbus Perlan Mission II to expand their educational programs by creating more partnerships and forming an international education committee.

Piloting Technique

The crew will use piloting techniques that are commonly used by wave soaring pilots. These techniques were shown to work at high altitude by Perlan 1. Using clouds and instruments, the pilot will fly thePerlan 2 to areas of rising air. When in the rising air, the pilot will maneuver the Perlan 2 to remain inthe area of the strongest up draft. When there are no clouds to mark the area of lift positioning will bedone with the aid of a GPS based moving map.

Aeromedical Factors & Emergencies

The pressurization system is designed to keep the cabin at 15,000 feet cabin altitude as the Perlan 2 climbs above this height. The crew will breathe 100% oxygen from a re-breather system. They will experience the same physiological factors as someone flying a powered airplane to high altitude.  In the event of an emergency, the crew can deploy a drogue parachute from the tail of the Perlan 2. This will allow a very rapid vertical descent. At low altitude, the crew can deploy a ballistic recovery parachute that can safely lower the entire Perlan 2 to the ground.



Following Einar Enevoldson and Elizabeth Austin’s discovery that it high altitude mountain waves propelled by the Polar Vortex could reach over 130,000 feet Perlan Mission 1 was commissioned to answer three questions:


Where In the World?

It was understood that the necessary conditions for stratospheric mountain waves would only exist at very high latitudes in either the northern or southern hemispheres. But exactly where was yet to be determined.

Can a glider do it?

It was necessary to determine whether or not a glider could successfully transition from the lower wave structures generated by surface winds to the higher wave structures that interact with the Polar Vortex. This transition would need to take place at about 50,000 feet, higher than any glider had previously flown.

What systems will keep the pilots alive?

At 90,000 feet the conditions approximate what would be found on Mars. The aircraft and crew would be subjected to extremely low air pressure, low air density and temperatures approaching minus 70 degree Fahrenheit. What systems will be required to reliably support the crew?


From 1992-98, Perlan’s founder and NASA test pilot Einar Enevoldson collected evidence on a weather phenomenon that no one at the time even knew existed: stratospheric mountain waves.

Like huge ocean waves, these waves of air are kicked off by strong winds blowing over the tops of high mountain ranges like the Andes. These waves of air then shoot straight up towards space. As a pilot, Einar quickly figured out that you can use a glider to ride those waves all the way up to near space. And he set out to prove it. This became The Perlan Project.

In 1998 meteorologist Dr. Elizabeth Austin teamed up with Einar and expanded upon his findings proving that it is the stratospheric polar night jet and the polar vortex that are factors in sustaining these mountain waves allowing them to reach up to 130,000 feet (39,624 metres).

In 1999 Steve Fossett, the record-setting aviator, sailor, adventurer and first person to fly solo non-stop around the world in a balloon, decided to fund Perlan Mission I and became one of its pilots.

On August 30, 2006 Steve Fossett and Einar Enevoldson flew (Perlan Mission I) a modified DG-505m aircraft (Perlan 1), to 50,722 ft (15,460 m) breaking the previous record by 1,662 ft (507 m).

And they could have gone even higher!
The problem was that their pressure suits expanded so much inside the cabin that they could not move the flight controls and safely control the aircraft anymore. Therefore, they came down, and quickly decided they needed a custom glider with a pressurized cabin.