NASA's first manned X-plane in 2 decades is 100% electric
NASA's first manned X-plane in 2 decades is 100% electric
4:03

NASA's first manned X-plane in 2 decades is 100% electric

Science
NASA invited us to come see its first all electric x plane the X 57 Maxwell. Let's check it out. [MUSIC] The X 57 recently arrived at the Armstrong Flight Research Centre to begin ground testing for its first manned test flight. Battery capacity is one of the major challenges with developing electric aircraft technology. The X 57 is expected to have a range of about 100 miles and a flight time of one hour. There just aren't batteries capable of powering larger planes or longer trips quite yet. That's why most electric aircraft technology right now is limited to hybrid planes, small flight training aircraft and urban ride sharing. For those purposes, electric aircraft are kind of ideal, vastly reducing operating and maintenance costs for short range flights. Another major challenge with electric aircraft is the dangers of Lithium-Ion batteries overheating. We've learned a lot about packaging batteries, so getting the Lithium-Ion cells mounted in configurations that are safe and reliable and making sure that if you have a battery failure, it doesn't propogate to more and more cells and cause a fire for the vehicle. What you see here is mod two of the x57. The first of three all electric configurations. You'll notice that the engines are closer to the fussilage in this version than in the concept animations. Having the propellers closer to the fussilage increases stability. In mod 3 The two engines will move further out of the wing and in mod four, the 12 additional electric powered propellers will be added. Mod four will have 14 propellers in total each of which will be able to be adjusted individually to compensate for carrying flight conditions. Only the two propellers on the ends of the wing will be needed in cruise mode, during which the X 57 will reportedly be emissions free mode to the X 57 is expected to have its first man test flight in 2020 with mods three and four to follow. Until then, the test pilots practice everything on a simulator You just got to see the simulator and a lot what we have what we do in the build up and test is all about build up is to use that simulator. We see things first right there before we see it in this airplane. I shouldn't have no surprises when I fly this The wing from mod three and four is already in the works being developed right alongside mod two. This is the high performance high aspect ratio wing that NASA has designed for mod three and four of the X 57 flight program. So this wing is fully assembled. It's fully integrated now with the structural configuration. [UNKNOWN] we've done load tests. So we took it to our loads lab, which is in the building here at NASA Armstrong, and put all the flight loads on the wing so that all the thrust loads and all the lifting loads and all their dynamic forces are put into the structure and then we measure the structural response and verify that it meets all of our design requirements. So now that it's structurally qualified for flight, we're gonna send it to our subcontractor at DS Arrow and have them integrate the electrical systems into the wing. With a handful of electric aircraft already on the market and more on the way, NASA's intention in making the X-57 is to learn what it takes to make a safe electric plaine. And to pass that info along to regulators And to the growing market. We have motors, we have controllers, we've got lots of distribution to our system like you would see in a vertical take off vehicle. All of the lessons we're learning apply very directly to the challenges that you woould have for air taxi service or rather Uber air mobility applications. Try to figure out the hard stuff So we can give it to the commercial market. Yeah. And make it so that technological hurdle, we've already done it. You can take this and use it. As always, thanks so much for watching. I'm your host, Jessie Oral. See you next What The fam. [MUSIC]

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