NASA Just Unveiled Its All-Electric X-57 Plane

This is Maxwell, a little electric plane that is helping build a cleaner tomorrow.

6. 22. 16 by Charmaine Caparas
Image by NASA

NASA is building an all-electric test plane called X-57, nicknamed “Maxwell.”

It will feature a long, thin wings lined with 12 small electric motors. On each wing tip, NASA will put two larger engines.

“This all comes back to that traditional aircraft design process,” says Sean Clarke, NASA engineer and co-principal investigator for electric propulsion and the X-57. “I’m given a certain performance envelope: Make this thing go fairly fast, using as little fuel as possible.”

Credits: NASA Langley/Advanced Concepts Lab, AMA, Inc.

During takeoff and landing, the 12 small motors kick on for about 30 seconds. Once it’s moving, the X-57’s version of shifting into high gear is shutting off those 12 engines and letting the two larger end-wing propellers take over.


Once complete, the aircraft will be able to operate solely on battery power. An electrically-powered plane will reduce noise pollution as well as air pollution. While modern aviation still requires lead based fuels, a battery-powered flight would eliminate this big source of pollution.

Care about supporting clean energy adoption? Find out how much money (and planet!) you could save by switching to solar power at By signing up through this link, may receive a small commission.

Share This Article

Keep up.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter to keep in touch with the subjects shaping our future.
I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its User Agreement and Privacy Policy


Copyright ©, Camden Media Inc All Rights Reserved. See our User Agreement, Privacy Policy and Data Use Policy. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with prior written permission of Futurism. Fonts by Typekit and Monotype.