NASA close to launching first electric aircraft

Science News

(NewsNation) — NASA is close to flying its first all-electric aircraft, the space agency announced Sunday, Oct. 20.

Named the X-57, the newest iteration includes two 400-pound lithium-ion battery packs in the cabin of the plane, which are crucial to providing the energy its motors need for flight.

To get to this point, the X-57 project team repeatedly tested the batteries to make sure they can last the duration of the flight. In addition, they designed lightweight battery cases to keep them secure without adding additional weight.

Launched in 1944 as part of the agency’s research to develop sustainable, high-speed aircraft, NASA’s goal is for passengers to fly cleaner and quieter.

In addition to the X-57, NASA is also developing as part of its “X-planes” series a quiet supersonic jet (X-59 QueSST ), which is reportedly moving closer to its first test flights.

NASA’s next tests for the X-57 include a series of test flights, during which they will collect data to better understand the aircraft’s operation and performance.

Once the required tests are complete and the aircraft is performing as planned, NASA will reportedly conduct taxi and flight operations.

The ultimate goal, if all goes as planned, is for X-57’s designs, flight patterns and overall technological approach to inform certification approaches in all emerging electric aircraft markets.

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