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NASA Takes Curtains Off its First Still Under Development Electric Plane

NASA, most popular for its many Florida-launched exploits into space, released an early version of its first all-electric plane, the…

By Luann Reagan , in Industry News News , at November 11, 2019 5:27 AM EST Tags: , ,

NASA, most popular for its many Florida-launched exploits into space, released an early version of its first all-electric plane, the X-57 “Maxwell,” on Friday at its undisclosed aeronautics lab in the California desert.

Adapted from an Italian-made Tecnam P2006T twin-engine propeller airplane, the X-57 has been below development since 2015 and stays at least a year away from its first test flight from Edward Air Drive Base.

However, after attaching the two biggest of 14 electric motors that can finally propel the jet-powered by specially created lithium-ion batteries – NASA considered the Maxwell ready for its first public preview.

NASA showed off a newly built simulator that allows engineers, and pilots, to get the feel of what it will be like to move the completed version of the X-57 in flight, even as the airplane stays under development.

The Maxwell is the latest in a fleet of experimental jet the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) had developed over many decades for a lot of purposes, including the bullet-shaped Bell X-1 that first crossed the sound limit and the X-15 rocket aircraft flown by Neil Armstrong before he joined the Apollo moon mission group.

The Maxwell will be the agency’s first crewed X-plane to be created in 20 years.

While private corporations have been developing all-electric aircraft and hover-craft for years, NASA’s X-57 venture is aimed toward creating and proving technology based on standards that commercial plane-makers can adapt for government certification.

Those will embrace standards for airworthiness and safety, as well as for vitality effectivity and noise, Brent Cobleigh, a mission supervisor for NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Facility at Edwards, about 100 miles (160 km) north of Los Angeles.