AUS Alumnus Ed Warnock’s Perlan Project Reaches New Heights

Antioch University Seattle alumnus Ed Warnock, who earned an MA in Whole Systems Design OSR, is the CEO of The Perlan Project, a scientific organization dedicated to perfecting engineless glider flight at the edge of space for purposes of atmospheric research.

On September 3, 2017, The Perlan Project’s Mission II broke its 2006 Mission I record by reaching 52,172 feet above sea level in an engineless glider. The mission’s press release quotes Warnock, who said, “We are celebrating an amazing victory for aerospace innovation and scientific discovery today… We will continue to strive for even higher altitudes, and to continue our scientific experiments to explore the mysteries of the stratosphere. We’ve made history, but the learning has just begun.”

While the Mission II flight reached record-breaking heights, its technology is designed to soar even higher. Warnock told Wired, “We’re going to be able to fly level and maintain our altitude at 90,000 feet”.

The Perlan Project’s Mission II has two research themes. Research theme #1 is to study the exchange of heat, air mass, and chemicals between the troposphere and stratosphere, with a goal of improving climate change predictive models.

Research theme #2 is to directly measure the chlorine-based chemicals and ozone in the stratosphere, to better understand ozone depletion, which has already increased rates of skin cancer in Australia, under an ozone hole. These research goals are better served by flying craft without exhaust emissions, because aircraft emissions may skew data by contaminating samples.

The Perlan 2 glider has a wingspan of 84 feet, yet has a gross weight of 1800 lbs. The glider was designed to reach record-breaking heights by surfing on mountain waves in the Polar Vortex. “Winds in the Polar Vortex can reach speeds of 260+ knots allowing the mountain waves to propagate upwards into the stratosphere”.

As CEO of The Perlan Project, Warnock is helping further scientific exploration in ways that help answer some of the most critical scientific questions of our time, such as how quickly our climate is changing, and what can humanity do about it, as well as discovering greener ways to fly to the edge of space.

Learn more about The Perlan Project at perlanproject.org.

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