Glider Set To Fly 17 Miles Above Earth

Final tests have taken place on a glider which could soon create aviation history.

The Perlan 2 glider is set to soar to 90,000 feet - 17 miles into the sky - which is higher than any plane has ever managed.

The current record holder is a US spy plane, the SR-71 Blackbird, but that managed the feat using jet engines.

The glider will instead attempt to soar using air currents rising off mountains.

In late-stage tests, the glider took off from an airstrip in Nevada, with a pilot and passenger on board.

Perlan 2 glider and pilots on runway

The flight lasted just 10 minutes instead of the planned two hours due to rainy conditions.

The conditions at 90,000 feet (27,432m) are similar to those on Mars - with a thin atmosphere and extremely cold temperatures.

Data gathered could help the various organisations hoping to send humans to Mars to plan their missions.

The project was originally funded by US adventurer and aviator Steve Fossett.

Perlan 2

But after his death in 2007, plane manufacturer Airbus stepped in to continue the funding.

The glider's designers hope that its long thin wings can withstand the intense stresses it will be subjected to in flight.

The record attempt will take place in Calafate, Argentina, above the Andes, later this year.

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