NASA, best known for its space technology, unveiled its first fully electric aircraft, the X-57 Maxwell, yesterday. The space agency hopes to realize the first flight by plane by the end of 2020.
NASA started developing a fully electric aircraft in 2015 and unveiled the progress at the research center in the California desert yesterday. The developers hope to be able to make the first flight with the fully electric flight by the end of 2020.
The aircraft is based on a twin-engine propeller aircraft, where traditional combustion engines have been replaced by electric engines. There are 14 electric motors that are powered by specially designed lithium-ion batteries, the same technology that is also used in mobile phones and electric cars.
NASA hopes that with more improvement the technology can also be applied in commercial flights. However, the design still needs to be modified to meet international standards for safety, energy efficiency and noise pollution, for example. “We focus on things that can help the entire industry, not just one company,” Brent Cobleigh, a project manager at NASA’s flight research center, told Reuters.
NASA also showed off a newly built simulator that allows engineers and pilots to feel what it will be like to maneuver the finished version of the X-57 during the flight.