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NASA X-57 flying through city

NASA X-57 Maxwell

ESAero is the only small business to be awarded as the prime contractor for a manned X-plane in NASA’s history

NASA X-57 Maxwell in flight

NASA’s X-57 Maxwell Powers Up

NASA’s X-57 Maxwell all-electric aircraft reached another milestone toward its first flight with the successful installation of two 400-pound lithium-ion battery packs in the cabin of the plane.

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NASA X-57 Maxwell rear view

NASA Releases Concept Images of All-electric X-57 in Final Configuration

X-57, which is NASA’s first piloted X-plane in two decades, is seen here in its final all-electric configuration, known as Modification IV, or Mod IV. 

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Key Technologies

Lithium-ion Batteries

X-57 is powered by 860 lbs. of lithium-ion batteries, specially redesigned to isolate potential overheating issues. The batteries feature 69.1kWh energy usage and 47kWh usable energy.

High-aspect Ratio Wings

Starting in Mod III, X-57's design features a skinnier, high-aspect ratio wing. This wing design features a large reduction in area, and wing loading increasing from 17 lbf/sqft to 45 lbf/sqft.

Cruise Motors & Propellers

X-57’s electric cruise motors are inboard on Mod II. Those same motors are repositioned to the wingtips for the Mod III and IV designs. The air-cooled, out-runner cruise motors feature 60 kW of power each, and 5 ft diameter propellers.

High-Lift Motors & Propellers

The X-57 Mod IV design features smaller, 10.5kW, high-lift motor propellers along the wing's leading edge. These motors, and 1.9-foot diameter propellers, are powered to generate lift for the aircraft. Once in cruise, the propellers fold to reduce drag. 

X-57 Informational Poster


NASA X-57 flying through city


Ground Validation of Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP) High-Lift System

Flight Testing of Baseline Tecnam P2006T

• Establish Baseline Tecnam Performance
• Pilot Familiarity

Pilot starting the engines of the X-57


Retrofit of a Baseline General Aviation Aircraft with an Electric Propulsion System

Ground and Flight Test Validation of Electric Motors, Batteries, and Instrumentation

• Establish Electric Power System Flight Safety
• Establish Electric Tecnam Retrofit Baseline
• Optimize Design for 3.3x Lower Energy Use at High Speed

NASA X-57 Maxwell rear view


Modified Configuration with a Cruise-optimized DEP Wing

Electric Cruise Motors Repositioned to Wingtips

Installation of High-Lift Nacelles Along Wing’s Leading Edge

• Optimize Design for Additional 1.5x Reduction in Energy Use
• Reduction of Wing Area to Reduce Friction Drag

NASA X-57 Maxwell in flight


Modified Configuration for Adequate Low-Speed Takeoff

Ground and Flight Test with Fully-Integrated DEP High-Lift Motors and Folding Propellers

• Certification Basis of DEP Technologies
• DEP Acoustics Testing
• Low-Speed Control Robustness