This is Getting Real. NASA Working on Electric Flight

August 31, 2016

nasaplane

Artist’s concept

One more research initiative where tech breakthroughs could ripple through just about every aspect of society.

NASA:

With 14 electric motors turning propellers and all of them integrated into a uniquely-designed wing, NASA will test new propulsion technology using an experimental airplane now designated the X-57 and nicknamed “Maxwell.” This artist’s concept of the X-57 shows the plane’s specially designed wing and 14 electric motors. NASA Aeronautics researchers will use the Maxwell to demonstrate that electric propulsion can make planes quieter, more efficient and more environmentally friendly.

“With the return of piloted X-planes to NASA’s research capabilities – which is a key part of our 10-year-long New Aviation Horizons initiative – the general aviation-sized X-57 will take the first step in opening a new era of aviation,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, during his keynote speech Friday in Washington at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) annual Aviation and Aeronautics Forum and Exposition.

NASA’s aeronautical innovators hope to validate the idea that distributing electric power across a number of motors integrated with an aircraft in this way will result in a five-time reduction in the energy required for a private plane to cruise at 175 mph.

Several other benefits would result as well. “Maxwell” will be powered only by batteries, eliminating carbon emissions and demonstrating how demand would shrink for lead-based aviation fuel still in use by general aviation.

Energy efficiency at cruise altitude using X-57 technology could benefit travelers by reducing flight times, fuel usage, as well as reducing overall operational costs for small aircraft by as much as 40 percent. Typically, to get the best fuel efficiency an airplane has to fly slower than it is able. Electric propulsion essentially eliminates the penalty for cruising at higher speeds.

nasaplane2

Artists concept

Finally, as most drivers of hybrid electric cars know, electric motors are more quiet than conventional piston engines. The X-57’s electric propulsion technology is expected to significantly decrease aircraft noise, making it less annoying to the public.

Climate.nasa.gov:

If there were no need for massive batteries, electric propulsion could dramatically reduce aviation’s contribution to climate change from carbon dioxide emissions. But what if the plane, itself, were the battery?

Suppose an aircraft’s skin or floor, for example, could serve double-duty by storing and dispensing electrical energy without adding substantially to the weight of the materials currently used. That could bring us a lot closer to practical electric flight on a meaningful scale.

What’s wrong with batteries? For one thing, they’re very heavy. Today’s best batteries would increase a small plane’s weight by about a third. A large plane’s weight would go up by a similar fraction even with highly improved batteries, four times as efficient as today’s best. Lifting all that battery weight eats up a lot of the energy that would be better put toward moving people and cargo.

Batteries take up a lot of space, too. And accommodating them, whether inside or outside the plane, increases drag—air resistance that wastes still more energy.

nasacockpit

Cockpit view – NASA’s Electric Aircraft

The goal of eliminating—or at least reducing—the need for separate batteries drives a team of some 35 scientists and engineers, working at four NASA centers and led by Patricia Loyselle of NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Their project, called M-SHELLS (for Multifunctional Structures for High-Energy Lightweight Load-bearing Storage), falls under NASA’s Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program. TACP supports efforts that have a high risk of failure because of their ultra-challenging nature, but which will pay off big if they succeed. And in this case, the benefits could potentially go far beyond aeronautics.

“We would love to see our developments incorporated in things like cars as well as aircraft,” Loyselle said. “You could use it for some of the structures that go up into space. It could be for buildings. It could be pretty much anywhere you need energy and a structure at the same time.”

For the M-SHELLS project to succeed, it needs to create material that is as strong as today’s aircraft-construction materials, can store large amounts of energy and both charge and dispense that energy rapidly. “You don’t want to sit around for four hours waiting for the battery to recharge,” Loyselle said. “And if somebody wants to change altitude, we want to be able to deliver the power quickly.”

The team is trying to merge two kinds of energy technology. “We are developing what’s called a hybrid supercapacitor that’s got the qualities of a battery as well as the qualities of a supercapacitor,” Loyselle said, noting that batteries are able to store a lot of energy whereas supercapacitors are speed demons for charging and discharging.

Some newly available materials may provide the means. “Some of these new nano materials are very, very strong,” Loyselle said. “And if you have that real small particle size, reactions happen much faster.”

Flying Priuses

Large all-electric planes will require the ability to pack much more energy into a given amount of battery—whether M-SHELLS or the standard kinds—than any developments currently visible on the horizon. So when it comes to commercial transport aircraft, M-SHELLS products in the near term are most likely to be used for hybrid planes that use a combination of electricity and jet fuel much as a Prius uses electricity and gasoline.

Hybrid turbo-electric planes hold a lot of promise, according to Jim Felder, a NASA aerospace engineer specializing in aircraft propulsion. “If electrified propulsion really works out for large aircraft,” he said, “it could be as big a change as the transition from piston-engine propeller planes to jet engines.”

 

And NASA’s not alone.  There’s a global race to solve this problem. Small armies of engineers now involved – huge rewards for the winner. That should remind you of any number of technological revolutions we’ve seen in recent decades.

38 Responses to “This is Getting Real. NASA Working on Electric Flight”

  1. Lionel Smith Says:

    I see one hell of an asymmetric thrust problem if one motor should fail at a tip with that initial artists concept. I guess that is why they don’t let artists design aircraft.

    • Andy Lee Robinson Says:

      With many points of thrust, the other motors can easily compensate for the loss of any one, or more motors.
      Flight would just become less efficient, and may force an earlier landing if happens earlier in the flight.
      Electric motors almost never fail – there is very little to go wrong with a bunch of coils and rotating supermagnets if driven within spec, and same goes for the the inverters driving them based on mosfet or IGBT solid state technology.

      That said, bearings and capacitors need to be checked occasionally as these have definite lifetimes measured from months to decades, but the maintenance burden on electric motors are literally orders of magnitude less than jet and piston engines.

      • Lionel Smith Says:

        Electric motors almost never fail – there is very little to go wrong with a bunch of coils and rotating supermagnets if driven within spec,

        And of course birds never collide with aircraft, neither do hailstones.

        I have had to clean and repair from such events in the past.

        Your mention of jet (gas turbine – Brayton cycle) and piston engines (Otto cycle for 4-stroke) is a red herring for aircraft powered thus can also suffer greatly from asymmetric thrust through failure whether induced by bird-hail strike or otherwise. One notorious asymmetric thrust problem hit the B-58 Hustler which could lose its fin and become uncontrollable.

        • Andy Lee Robinson Says:

          The threat from birds is a constant faced by all aircraft, but jet turbines are far more vulnerable because they operate close to structural limits and have many blades that can get clogged.

          Propellers, regardless of how they are powered, are more resilient so you can’t use bird strikes as a means of denigrating electric motors.

          The simple fact that a plane has 10 or more motors on the wings makes it more fault tolerant, and that is true for whatever kind of motors they are. Period.

          Electric motors are lighter, so the wings can accommodate more of them.

  2. redskylite Says:

    I do trust NASA implicitly and their clean fueled aircraft designs are an inspiration to aircraft manufacturers (as was the recent Solar Impulse 2 around the world spectacle) and coming along just great. But maybe the Dumb Old Guy’s cautionary warnings are not as dumb as his handle suggests. Not so long ago we were wowed with wonderful pictures of a gleaming beast of a red truck, proudly presented by a company called “Nikola”, promising electric powered freight movement capabilities in their new design. Apart from their lame, super-corny name, (O.K Musk got away with it using the other half of the hallowed name, but early on and the first to do so), “Nikola” have U turned after taking (lots of) investment money on good-faith. Who does that ? Beware of early investment you may get stung.

    Nikola Motor Company COMPLETELY Drops Plans For Battery-Electric Semitrucks, Despite Taking $10.5 Million In Reservation Deposits — Focus Now On Hydrogen-Fuel-Cell Trucks.

    “What should someone make of this all? Bad news for those who put down reservations (if the reservation figures were accurate/true), but what else? Scammers and utopians tend to be an issue when a new technology first starts picking up importance, so there’s essentially nothing new here — just another way to pump useful money into a useless idea. “

    https://cleantechnica.com/2016/08/30/nikola-motor-company-completely-drops-plans-battery-electric-semitrucks-despite-taking-10-5-million-reservation-deposits-focus-now-hydrogen-fuel-cell-trucks/


    • Progress comes in fits and starts. Giving up won’t cause progress. There will be failures, of course, but I still think this will happen. It has to, basically.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        “Progress comes in fits and starts”? LOL And failures come in great globs of wasted money, and sometimes huge explosions like that of Musk’s SpaceX rocket on the pad in Florida yesterday—-buy that Tesla stock folks, and reserve your seat on the Mars flights—then go to sleep like Rip Van Winkle while you wait for results.

        The only thing that HAS to happen js that we need to get moving on MEANINGFUL steps to reduce CO2 emissions before AGW destroys the planet. Electric trucks, helicopters, and planes are a bright-sided distraction whose only real goal is to make those who push them rich (just like the old dead horse Solar Roadway).

        • Gingerbaker Says:

          Um… what?

          Electric trucks are part of the solution to reduce CO2 emissions. Transportation just became the largest CO2 emitting sector of the economy.

          We can’t stop burning fossil fuels until we build the RE infrastructure to replace it – and EV’s are part of that infrastructure. EV’s are not a distraction – they are part of the answer.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            No, GB—–until we stop burning coal, touting electric trucks (and planes) IS a distraction. I agree with most of your constant ranting about RE, but it’s giant step that we need to take to get there and it’s just not happening fast enough.

            The unwashed masses see little flashes about electric planes and trucks on the “infotainment” news programs and say “Oh, isn’t that wonderful, we’re working SO hard to save the planet”. (They then hop in their SUV’s or pickup trucks and drive to the mall to SHOP for things they don’t need that were made in countries where coal is burned in huge amounts, and those things are shipped here in vessels burning the dirtiest liquid fuel).


  3. It is a good time for it, we are also working on plasma actuators on the wings… and battery technology keeps getting better and better…

    Exciting times indeed.

  4. dumboldguy Says:

    Has someone blown a DOG whistle? Did I hear my name taken in vain by redsky?

    I will answer the call by expanding more bluntly on what I said the last time we heard about how “wonderful” it was that NASA was exploring electric planes. Simply put, this is all total unadulterated bright-sided bullshit.

    This is just a PR effort by some in NASA to justify their jobs and perhaps benefit their buddies in the aerospace industry. Maybe the Solar Roadway folks will get on board and we’ll have Solar RUNWAYS too?—-just think of how much money there is to be made there (and how much GLASS we can recycle into nice slippery “pavement”).

    I cited a link about how fossil fuel use in aircraft and in ocean shipping was not being dealt with adequately, and that both were expected to grow in absolute terms and even more in proportion as fossil fuel use in other areas declined.

    This NASA “breakthrough” is a “make jobs” project for a few, a toy for the rich something that will have limited real world application, and, most importantly, a distraction from the real problem—-too many people flying around and too far (many on freaking “VACATIONS”, no less), too much “stuff” being manufactured in too many places and being shipped around the world in hugely dirty ships.

    Airplane manufacturers are “inspired” only by how much money they can make selling planes to corporations who want to make money flying them. There is NO, repeat NO, real future for electric planes that will help with AGW.

    Andy Lee and Lionel engage in some “navel gazing” debate about mechanical things, but neither seem to see the problem I see with the “artist’s concept” drawing. That wing is so small that this thing will have the glide ratio of a brick if the power fails, especially considering the weight of the motors and the batteries. Even before that, the wing configuration is such that it doesn’t look like it could generate much lift, and any engine failure on takeoff would put it into the perimeter fence. I am reminded of the F-104 Starfighter, which had such a poor glide ratio that any pilot who experienced engine failure out of visual range of a runway was advised to “point the plane at an empty spot and eject ASAP”.

    • redskylite Says:

      As someone who worked for an aircraft manufacturer in the U.K (before our beloved iron lady leader and her dear cabinet started arguing over it’s future), certainly the designers took note of NASA in the 70’s and 80’s. They also adhered to NATO standards too.

      As I am sure the company it has now evolved into is taking note.

      AgustaWestland introduces electric helicopter at Singapore Airshow
      Tuesday, 16 Feb 2016 | 6:43 AM ET

      The helicopter of the future is going electric, but it’s waiting on carmakers to design the battery.

      Project Zero, which is billed as the first all-electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, is on display at the Singapore Airshow, offering a glimpse at a tilt-rotor “concept.”

        • dumboldguy Says:

          What Project Zero shows a “glimpse” of is a company that looks to be perpetrating another “send us money” scam like Solar Roadway and Clean Energy Tower (and so far, even Musk the failure-to-meet-deadlines and rockets-blow-up guy).

          From the link: “Built by AgustaWestland, a unit of Italy’s Finmeccanica, it aims to eliminate the use of fuel. This would open the possibility of using the aircraft in low-to-no oxygen environments, which could range anywhere from getting close to active volcanos to use on Mars, James Wang, AgustaWestland’s senior vice-president of helicopters and services marketing, told CNBC”.

          Mr. Wang may be the “senior VP of marketing”, but what he is marketing is pure BS. The man needs to go back and take some Junior HS science classes.

          “…it aims to eliminate the use of FUEL…”? Ah, yes, no need for any energy source—-it will fly using the mental power of the marketer. Like Trump, you should BELIEVE him. (And ask him where the electricity is coming from to charge those batteries—-is there no “fuel” involved in producing it?).

          “….that opens the possibility of using the aircraft in low to NO oxygen environments…” Like getting close to ACTIVE VOLCANOES or flying it on MARS!!!!

          Lord love a duck, but that’s incredible! Anyone who wants to “get close to an active volcano” by air should use a drone, and the lack of O2 in the Martian atmosphere has NOTHING-NADA-ZILCH to do with anything!!!!!!!

          Mr. Marketing Man Wang-nut is obviously talking about the impossibility of using atmosphere breathing internal combustion engines on Mars, but he appears to be ignorant of the fact that Mars’ atmosphere is only about 1/100 as dense as the Earth’s, and flying machines of any kind are highly unworkable there no matter what powers them—-there are just not enough molecules to be “pushed” by propellers to produce thrust, or to flow over wings or helicopter blades to provide lift.

          • redskylite Says:

            Dr James Wang was the inventor of this hybrid tiltrotor/fan-in-wing aircraft. He and his hand picked team have a great track record.

            The Project Zero team was awarded AHS International’s prestigious 2014 Grover E. Bell Award—named for Larry Bell’s late brother—given to the individual or organization that has fostered and encouraged research and experimentation in helicopter development.

            Dr. James Wang has an insatiable talent and passion for aeronautics. He started flying and building his own model aircraft designs since 12 years old. James went on to earn a B.S. degree in aeronautical engineering and a second B.S. degree in electrical engineering, both from M.I.T., under the guidance of Professors Wesley Harris, Norman Ham, and Rene Miller.

            . . . . .
            Dr. Wang was at Sikorsky Aircraft for eighteen years where he was known as one of the most energetic and prolific technical experts in the areas of aeromechanics, ground test, flight test, and preliminary design. His technical contributions to the rotorcraft community included improving the state-of-the-art in comprehensive rotorcraft codes, validating vibratory loads reduction methodologies, devising aeroelastic instability alleviation, and leading many wind tunnel and full scale rotor tests. He has led R&D on Variable Diameter Tiltrotor (VDTR), Comanche, UH-60 Black Hawk, S-92, and US Presidential VH-3 helicopter programs. His technical contributions were critical to the success of these landmark helicopters.

            . . . . . .

            http://www.aero.umd.edu/alumni/distinguished-alumni/wang

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Yes, Dr. Wang HAS made many fine contributions to helicopter design, but it appears that he has now jumped on the bandwagon of the “capitalist free market entrepreneur get rich on other (gullible) people’s money by promoting bullshit” that is so clouding the future with their distracting “contributions”.

            His being given the Bell award by the American Helicopter Society is analogous to somebody being given an award by the American Petroleum Institute for doing “groundbreaking” work on fracking (or the Association of Funeral Hone Directors giving Don Blankenship of Massey Coal an award for increasing their business with his well run mines, or some crook being given the Willie Sutton Award for Excellence in Bank Robbing).

            I apologize for that bit of snark-sarc—it popped into my head and was too good to resist—-but IMO all too much of society’s time and energy and resources are being taken up by “promoters” (read get-rich on OPM scammers), and Project Zero moves from the positive side to way over on the BS side of the spectrum when we start talking about it being used on freaking MARS. And I can’t resist—-will the Society of Get Rich on OPM From Schemes to Colonize Mars now award Dr. Wang a medal? Will Elon Musk announce a new factory to build batteries for Project Zero? (Sorry again)

            Since we’re into links, here’s another to peruse—-try to hold your bright-sidedness and cognitive dissonance in check and read between the lines:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AgustaWestland_Project_Zero

            Dr. Wang needs to get out of marketing and back to his roots as an engineer. He made some real contributions there, but his “fly near volcanoes” and especially his “useful on Mars” BS is WAY beneath him.

          • redskylite Says:

            I certainly am not bright siding, I am defending the company that pays my pension (superannuation) modest as it is, the company I worked for over half my working life. In the 70’s when I started at Westlands they were developing several prototypes of novel aircraft, some of the ideas are worked into modern aircraft and drones, that is the way the aerospace business works . Buyers were mostly governments and military, they do not need to stoop to cheap propaganda as you suggest.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            I’ll say it yet again. The “great leaps forward” occur when a new technology first appears and in its earlier developmental stages. Once a technology matures, the pace of innovation tapers off. You will NEVER see anything else but wheels and rubber tires under your future automobiles, and the NASA electric airplane is a misapplication of technology that is a distraction from many far more important goals.

            It’s a sad commentary on so many things in today’s world of consumerism and marketing, but companies in all kinds of businesses most definitely DO “stoop to cheap propaganda” in an effort to “capture market share” and make the all-holy PROFIT that corporations put above the greater good.

            The company that “pays your pension” is no different—-I WOULD worry that they seem to be a bit desperate, though. Going from making REAL contributions to relying on pie-in-the-sky fantasies for future business is a bit scary, and your pension my suffer a bit when it doesn’t pan out.

            The way it works in the USA is that the corporate executives and financial wizards (hedge funders and venture capitalists like Romney) bleed a company dry and then sink it, and cut jobs and try to reduce or eliminate the pensions of those who really made the company and its profits—-the workers. Good luck!

          • redskylite Says:

            I do not regard an alternative power unit as a great leap forward, just a part of evolution. Fossils will need replacing anyway eventually. Naturally an Aerospace company would be pursuing alternative power sources, a large part of their R&D is subject to secrecy laws (as it is a very competitive business, and some equipment can be used in warfare), so not all is released as public news. Development takes time and needs to be tested and well proven too. Sales teams need to be very knowledgeable as they would be talking to very knowledgeable army, navel and air force expertise from various countries. A war or government overthrow can floor an aerospace company (and has several in the past), as it has very large overheads in materials, manpower and equipment. It is not unreasonable to anticipate developments in the near term future and would cover one front in the fight to reduce carbon emissions. The sum of many efforts are needed, in this struggle, this is just one small part. I watch all developments with interest and hope. I am not ready to give up yet.

          • redskylite Says:

            oops – Naval not navel

    • redskylite Says:

      The Lynx was one of the finest crafts Westland’s produced. NASA contributed handsomely in it’s development. It was fantastic to work in the works that produced it and watch it being flown around our airfield in Yeovil. It could barrel roll and flip and feather to the ground without power. NASA Astronaut Tim Peake used to be a test pilot for the Westland Lynx and others.

      “NASA Ames Research Center and Westland Helicopters Limited (WHL) established a joint research program to document the flight tests of a hingeless Lynx helicopter and perform a correlation study with these data.”

      http://rotorcraft.arc.nasa.gov/Research/Programs/lynx.html

    • jpcowdrey Says:

      Wright brothers aeroplane? Just another useless toy! Watt’s engine? Less than useless! Volta’s pile? Nothing but a prop in a parlor trick!

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Is there a point to this comment? Hmmmm—-after 30 nanoseconds of applying my dumboldbrain, I think I may have figured it out. It’s basically a logic fail.

        Watt’s engine, although not the first steam engine (Newcomen and Savery get more credit there) WAS the first that produced rotary motion AND was later refined and adapted to trains and ships and cars—-it made possible all the machinery that brought on the industrial revolution. After oil was discovered, the technology was adapted to the internal combustion engine and here we are today—-burning fossil fuels like crazy (but still making steam to generate electricity).

        The FIRST airplane WAS a great leap, but your attempt to “stretch” that leap into the world of batteries and electric planes doesn’t cut it. I’ve said before that anyone who saw the first trains, planes and automobiles a hundred years and more ago WOULD recognize today’s versions for what they are, and if there are any trains, planes and automobiles around a hundred years from now, they will STILL be recognizable. Same thing holds for baseball bats, rakes, shovels, and back scratchers—-the ORIGINALS may have been breakthroughs, but the later “models” show nnly incremental improvements.

        Considering the problem we face with AGW and emissions from fossil fuels, this NASA plane represents no real progress and IS a “useless toy”.

  5. Lionel Smith Says:

    Andy Lee and Lionel engage in some “navel gazing” debate about mechanical things,

    ‘scuse me DoG but I could have pointed out many issues with that artist’s concept I just picked to me the most obvious. I have had decades of professional experience in aviation with one qualification being in Aeronautical Engineering Science and another applied mechanics. Besides having a copy of A. C. Kermode here.

    If And likes to think that props are less vulnerable to birds or hail then so be it. It happens that intake designs of gas turbines can help with both whereas an damaged unbalanced prop’ soon goes crazy. If one tip prop is knocked out then its twin will have to be chopped back to maintain balance and then thrust will fall quickly.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      I have no problem with what you pointed out in your exchange with Andy, and your points are well taken—-I was mainly concerned with what seemed to me to be the more important fact (and the most obvious one)—-one that you and Andy didn’t seem to notice—-that the damn thing doesn’t even look like it can fly because of the wing design.

      I’m no aeronautical engineer, although I DID teach some HS Physics and DO understand how wings, engines, and propellers work, and how energy is used to produce flight, and IMO the thing as presently envisioned may not even be able to get off the ground.

      Answer me this—-why would one want to have 14 propellers (12 very small) rather then just 2 (or maybe 4) larger ones? Maybe some electrical engineer among us can explain the numbers re: power vs size, weight, power/weight ratio, efficiency, etc. My first thought there is that all the small propellers are needed to move air at high velocity over the wing or it won;’t generate enough lift.

      • Lionel Smith Says:

        My first thought there is that all the small propellers are needed to move air at high velocity over the wing or it won;’t generate enough lift.

        Quite so. In this mode it is almost a glider where initially some other means is needed to get up to flying speed. A glider will slowly lose altitude unless thermals are found and without those tip motors in action this aircraft will behave like a glider. The high aspect ratio wing is a mark of the glider which this craft resembles in that respect although wing area for sustained non powered flight is scant in spite of what I take it are full aspect flaperons which in flap mode are likely designed to assist in take off lift generation.

        • Lionel Smith Says:

          In this mode it is almost a glider where initially some other means is needed to get up to flying speed.

          I had intended that to read:

          In this mode it is almost a glider where initially some other means is needed to get the wing up to flying speed.

  6. mboli Says:

    You might be right about the 12 small propellers. Wikipedia says they are used at liftoff.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      So the small wing does NOT generate much lift at take-off speeds and propellers have to “blow on it” in order to get it to “fly” off the ground Simply brilliant! And after “lurch off” the small propellers and engine nacelles then provide some nice drag (and no lift) so that the performance continues to be marginal.

      Yep, it’s a flying brick, and whoever test flies it will need a good insurance policy on top of “the right stuff”. Humans are too “smart” for their own good, and this is just more proof of that.

  7. redskylite Says:

    Just to add another note of interest to the developing world of electric possibilities in aviation and beyond, and the hopeful retirement of the faithful fossil fueled combustion engine, ESA feature this development.

    Vertical takeoff electric airplane

    ESA BIC Bavaria start-up Lilium is building the world’s first vertical takeoff and landing two-seater electric airplane for personal use.

    http://www.esa.int/spaceinvideos/Videos/2016/05/Vertical_takeoff_electric_airplane

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Here’s a more sober assessment of the “IM-possibilities” surrounding what is billed as “the world’s first vertical takeoff and landing two-seater electric airplane for personal use”. It exists right now only as mock-ups and drawings, and is it is far less likely to succeed than the NASA plane. If any ever do get built and fly (highly unlikely), it will be just another expensive toy for the rich, and another distraction from the real goals we should be pursuing.

      https://www.wired.com/2016/06/lilium-electric-personal-jet-concept/

      This whole ESA BIC (Business Incubation Centre) thing seems to be a clever scheme cooked up by capitalists and “entrepreneurs” who want to get rich “doing good”. After a startup “incubating” grant, it looks like the “businesses” will subsist by taking other (gullible) people’s money Do NOT trade in your Solar Roadway stock so that you can buy into this particular fiasco).


  8. […] recent press release from NASA (h/t Peter Sinclair) explains why this could be important: “The fuselage will be integrated with an experimental, […]


  9. […] recent press release from NASA (h/t Peter Sinclair) explains why this could be important: “The fuselage will be integrated with an experimental, […]


  10. […] recent press release from NASA (h/t Peter Sinclair) explains why this could be important: “The fuselage will be integrated with an experimental, […]


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