Ladies and gentlemen, NASA is back with its first “dedicated research aircraft” since 2006. The X-57, nicknamed “Maxwell,” heralds NASA’s 10-year aviation initiative with a focus on electric power. Get prepared for this brave new world with these fun facts.
1. The plane is nicknamed for Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell. Maxwell is best known for his theory of electromagnetic radiation, making him the second-most famous Maxwell involved with this article.
2. A series of battery-powered electric motors sit along its wings. If Maxwell is successful, the amount of energy needed for a general aviation aircraft to go 175 mph could be cut by 500 percent.
3. There have been many groundbreaking X models in the past. The 1947 X-1 was the first plane in history to break the sound barrier.
4. The X-57’s electric engines will dramatically reduce the noise the aircraft makes. (Great, now people can start complaining about ordinary planes being too loud too.)
5. The elevated power efficiency will also reduce operational expenses by up to 40 percent, and if the technology is successful, NASA has already indicated that it will be available to all the leading airlines.
6. NASA is making up to five more planes in the X-57 series that will be bigger in size than Maxwell. These planes are all part of NASA’s “New Aviation Horizons Initiative,” with the goal of making flying more energy efficient.
Now if they would just start offering free wi-fi…