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NASA develops its first electric aircraft with 14 engines and 4 seats

NASA is developing its own electric aircraft, an electric version of the light twin-engine Tecnam P2006T with Italian design, currently available under the name X-57 Maxwell. The first prototype was delivered to NASA after several years of development by Empirical Systems Aerospace.

This is an important phase, as underlined by Tom Rigney, Project Manager, as this new model will enable NASA to conduct more in-depth testing of the aircraft’s electric propulsion system itself.

The same government then declares that NASA intends to share this valuable information in order to drive the electric aircraft market forward as quickly as possible.

The new electric X-57 has four seats and externally resembles the Tecnam P2006T, with the exception of the engine sector, where the internal combustion engines have been replaced by 14 electric motors. The electric aircraft could reach a speed of more than 280 km / h and, above all, would save a considerable amount of fuel, since its energy consumption would be 20% of the cost of a comparable conventional aircraft with a fuel engine.

However, the X-57 is only the first of a series of electric aircraft that NASA will develop in the coming years not so much for a real and practical need of the Agency, but for how much the feasibility and usefulness of electric vehicles can be demonstrated to conventional ones.


Image source:

http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/sceptor_city_nasa_half_res.jpg

Martin Hill

An accomplished journalist and freelancer, Martin has held a long career in media and has worked for numerous different agencies. He was an editor for the Arizona Business Gazette for over 10 years before joining the Tucson Weekly (tucsonweekly.com) and founding Science of Change, a new publication with the aim of reporting on science news over the internet. Beyond having extensive writing and research experience, Martin is also a science enthusiast with a passion for science and technology. In his younger life, he had studied mechanical engineering before moving on to journalism.
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