Major Milestone for NASA’s X-57 Maxwell All-Electric Aircraft

NASA X-57 Maxwell Electric Plane

This artist’s concept image shows NASA’s first all-electric X-plane, the X-57 Maxwell, in its final configuration, flying in cruise mode over NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. In Mod IV test flights, X-57’s high-lift motors will deactivate during cruise mode, and their propeller blades will fold into the nacelles to reduce drag. The motors will reactivate and use centrifugal force to spin the blades back out to provide necessary lift for landing. Credit: NASA Langley/Advanced Concepts Lab, AMA, Inc

NASA X-57 Maxwell in Hangar

Credit: NASA/Carla Thomas

The cruise motor controllers convert energy stored in the aircraft’s lithium-ion batteries to power the aircraft’s motors, which drive the propellers. The controllers use silicon carbide transistors to deliver 98% efficiency during high-power take-off and cruise, meaning they do not generate excessive heat and can be cooled off by the air flowing through the motor.

Susanah Kowalewski Cruise Motor Controller

NASA Glenn’s Susanah Kowalewski prepares a cruise motor controller for testing. Credit: NASA

During a recent test at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, each of the flight motor controllers survived while operating inside a test chamber under the range of temperatures they may encounter during flight with a safety margin applied (minus 11 to 147 degrees X-57 Cruise Motor Controller Testing

Left to Right: Glenn’s Jarred Wilhite, Emily Belovich, Andrew Smith, and Susanah Kowalewski gather data of the X-57 cruise motor controllers during thermal cycle tests. Credit: NASA

The testing team closely monitored temperature responses of the power components and the control components inside the controllers, making sure they stayed within their allowable temperature range limits of the components. Close monitoring ensures the cruise motor controllers will perform correctly during piloted research flights.

X-57 Maxwell Cruise Motor Controller Testing

Credit: NASA/Jef Janis

Now that ground tests have validated the controllers under the most extreme temperature conditions expected in flight, the X-57 team is one step closer to integrating all of Maxwell’s systems and ensuring that they can work together – one of the biggest challenges for an aircraft, especially a one-of-a-kind X-plane.

An upcoming Flight Readiness Review at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, is the next major step before research flights take place.

Source: SciTechDaily

2 Replies to “Major Milestone for NASA’s X-57 Maxwell All-Electric Aircraft”

  1. naturally like your web site however you need to take a look at the spelling on several of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling problems and I find it very bothersome to tell the truth on the other hand I will surely come again again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *