The FMX-5 concept has been developed into a payload return vehicle (PRV) built by Near Space Corporation (NSC) for a program called "Talon Topper". The Talon Topper PRV is a glider that returns payloads from balloons flying at extremely high "near space" altitudes (above 60,000 feet).
The PRV is carried aloft by the balloon. The mission payload is integrated into the PRV, which hangs under the balloon during the "float" portion of the flight. After the payload has completed its mission, the PRV is released from the balloon and glides home autonomously to an automatic landing in a pre-selected landing area. PRVs have made numerous flights including successful returns from altitudes in excess of 98,000 feet
During two extremely high altitude flights, the PRV reached speeds in excess of Mach 0.97 (97% of the speed of sound)
Early test vehicles were electric powered and ground-launched. They made many flights developing the vehicle systems and autopilot algorithms. This is ship 3 on an early development flight.
PRV Being launched and climbing away under the balloon. At high altitude, the helium moves into a second, much larger balloon that is stowed on top of the PRV in these pictures.
PRV's being prepared for missions
For more about the FMX-5 and Barnaby Wainfan (the designer) check out these links:
Factemobile Home Page
NASA PAV (Personal Air Vehicle) Facetmobile Project