How to NASA’s Experimental Electric Airplane Edges Closer

How to NASA’s Experimental Electric Airplane Edges Closer

Looking at every bit like a winged tube of toothpaste, NASA's X-57 Maxwell Experimental Aircraft sits in the hangar of Edwards Air Force Base, California. Experimental aircraft are NASA's first crew in 20 years; It runs solely on electric power, first an agency, and it is to undergo high-voltage functional testing before its first flight scheduled to take place later this year.

"Currently, we have a battery emulator that we're using to power the aircraft," said Nick Bepper, an aerospace engineer at NASA's Langley Research Center, in the video call. "But this is the first time we have low-voltage and high-voltage systems working together."

NASA's compilation of experimental aircraft or X-planes speaks to the agency's long history about the future of flight. They range from kite-shaped, Bush-era combat drones to the Eisenhower administration's autizero, which sounds like a Greek dish that eats itself but resembles a try-out tricycle in association with a helicopter. The new electric craft certainly looks higher than any of them, and will have 14 propellers.

Hallmark features of the X-57 include its exclusive electric fuel system and two of the 14 motor-six wings, as well as two large motors at the tip, which would make it difficult to manage a hefty, gas-fired engine. (The idea of ​​Wingtip Motors was introduced in the early 1980s, but the technological limitations of the time took such ideas into the realm of futurism). The torso is a recycled husk from a Tecnam P2006T, a high-wing Italian twin-engined aircraft. The main contractor of the project is California-based company Empirical Systems Aerospace.

Borer is an aerospace engineer who works on aircraft conceptual design for NASA, focusing on how aircraft design changes in relation to technological advances. Since humans learned to fly, Borer said, there was just one propulsion revolution: a shift from piston engine to jet engine for electric flight. The X-57 flies the script of the 21st century, running on two lithium battery packs in the cabin of the aircraft.

Bayer said, "One of the really cool things about the X-57 is that it's like two and a half, maybe even three X-planes in one" different from how you integrate propulsion for airplanes. way. It is not just putting a motor or battery on an aircraft; It changes how you design the aircraft. "

Upcoming ground voltage tests will examine the ability of motors to run in tandem. The aircraft will undergo trials without moving and before and after the taxi trials, in 2021, the crew will take flight. In addition to the takeoff, which will undoubtedly be cool, Borer is really excited to see Plane Land for the first time and get feedback on how the X-57 team handles it differently from other aircraft.

"The way we've set it up is that the aircraft modulates and actually helps control the critical area on the backside of the power curve," said Borer, referring to a tricky situation in which Propeller aircraft find themselves requiring significantly more power. They are slow to take off. "My feeling is that it feels like it's gone, and it's a big advance and an interesting thing to get the opinions of test pilots."

Borer said that a fully electric aircraft could be a watershed moment for human flight. He said the X-57 Maxwell could be "the tide to lift all boats". "Or all airplanes."

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