Mars Helicopter Reaches 30-Minute Milestone


NASA announced Wednesday that its Ingenuity Mars helicopter reached a total flight time of 30 minutes during its 17th flight on Dec. 5. The 117-second trip brought the total time in the air logged by the rotorcraft to 30 minutes and 48 seconds. As previously reported by AVweb, Ingenuity became the first aircraft to operate from the surface of another planet when it successfully completed its first flight from Mars’ Jezero Crater on April 19, 2021.

“Few thought we would make it to flight one, fewer still to five. And no one thought we would make it this far,” said Ingenuity team lead Teddy Tzanetos. “On the way to accumulating over a half-hour aloft Ingenuity has survived eight months of bitter cold, and operated out of nine unique Martian airfields. The aircraft’s continued operations speaks to the robustness the design and the diligence and passion of our small operations team.”

According to NASA, Ingenuity has traveled 2.2 miles (3,592 meters) over the Martian surface reaching a maximum height of 40 feet (12 meters) and a top speed of 10 MPH (5 meters per second). The 4-pound (1.8-kilogram) rotorcraft, which traveled to Mars with the Perseverance rover as a technology demonstrator, was designed to perform up to five experimental test flights. The helicopter is expected to attempt its 18th flight this week.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. That is an average of less than 2 minutes per flight. That is certainly the most expensive 2 miles ever traveled and the least productive!

    • Given the cost of building a two square mile altitude chamber with one-third the gravity (quite a trick, that) I’d say our little Energizer Ginny represents a significant bang-for-buck bargain in real-(other)-world data. Mimi and her team deserve the Collier Trophy, imho.

  2. “… operated out of nine unique Martian airfields.”. Has Jeppesen published a sectional chart reflecting these? 😉

  3. We can build and fly a helicopter on Mars but we can’t perfect and certify 100 octane equivalent unleaded avgas.
    Go figure

    • Ain’t no money in the gasoline. There are substitutes that would meet most specs, vapor pressure being an issue with some.

    • It isn’t that we can’t produce a 100UL, but we can’t make one that is AFFORDABLE. Besides, the FAA was not involved in “certification” of the Mars ‘copter. That would have quadrupled the price and added 10 years to the process.