One of the world's leading global agencies, NASA is known to most people as a space exploration company. But NASA is actually developing in the aircraft industry. For example, just the other day, the first all-electric plane was delivered to one of the company's hangars. And the engineers of the aerospace agency have already begun the first tests of the aircraft.
NASA's first electric airplane
Empirical Systems Aerospace (ESAero) commissioned the US aerospace agency to develop the X-57 Maxwell, which was delivered to the flight research center in Edwards, California. The device, labeled Mod II, will pass ground tests of an electric propulsion system. The propulsion system itself weighs 3,000 pounds (which is slightly more than 1,300 kilograms), with nearly a third of this weight being taken by lithium-ion batteries.
The supply of the X-57 Mod II to NASA is a significant event, marking the beginning of a new phase in the creation of electric aircraft, ”says Tom Rigney, Project Manager, X-57 With the aircraft at our disposal, the X-57 team will soon conduct extensive ground tests of the integrated electric propulsion system to ensure the flight suitability of the aircraft. We plan to carry out this stage as soon as possible in order to proceed to full-fledged flight tests.
The experimental X-57 is built on the basis of a four-seater light aircraft of Italian production Tecnam P2006T, but with 18 electric motors and separate propellers instead of piston engines.
Why NASA needs an electric airplane
No matter how strange it may sound, the X-57 project is primarily intended not for flights, but for the development of certification standards for the fast-growing market for electric planes and flying electric vehicles. First of all, this applies to urban aircraft. Because this market is of great interest from both private companies such as Uber and Hyundai, and the governments of some countries like the United Arab Emirates and Japan. And in order to keep the market from gravity, we need certain standards and certifications. By the way, how do you feel about the idea of spreading flying cars? Write about it in our chat in Telegram.
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The X-57 Mod II is essentially an engineering solution designed to simulate engine performance. Following Mod II, NASA plans to begin work on Mod III, which will focus on energy efficiency. And then on Mod IV. This model will already focus on maneuverability in the air. The final version of the aircraft, which should be obtained as part of the X-57 project, will, according to engineers, be 500% more maneuverable, environmentally friendly and much quieter than its "grandparent" Tecnam P2006T, as well as most modern aircraft. It is reported that the aircraft will be able to reach a cruising speed of 172 miles per hour (about 280 kilometers per hour) at an altitude of 8,000 feet (2.5 kilometers). The project has been under development since 2016 and is projected to be completed by NASA in the next 5-10 years.