NASA Eyes April For First Helicopter Flight On Mars

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NASA has marked April 8 as the first possible flight date for its Mars helicopter technology demonstrator, which arrived on the planet on Feb. 18 attached to the Perseverance rover. Named Ingenuity, the demonstrator is designed to be the first powered, controlled aircraft to fly on another planet. Once it detaches from the rover, the helicopter will have 30 Martian days (sols) to complete its flight test program.

“When NASA’s Sojourner rover landed on Mars in 1997, it proved that roving the Red Planet was possible and completely redefined our approach to how we explore Mars,” said Lori Glaze, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters. “Aptly named, Ingenuity is a technology demonstration that aims to be the first powered flight on another world and, if successful, could further expand our horizons and broaden the scope of what is possible with Mars exploration.”

According to NASA, Perseverance is currently heading toward the site chosen for the Ingenuity’s attempt at flight. It will take six sols to deploy the 1.8-kilogram (4-pound) rotorcraft, after which its internal heaters and power supply will be tasked with keeping it functional through nighttime temperatures down to as low as minus 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Up to five flight attempts are planned for the 30-sol testing window.

Video: NASA/JPL

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Old Man – “Look at that, the Wright brothers are at it again. That contraption is useless and will never fly.”
    Young Man – ” I sure hope it does, because I want to be just like Wilbur and build my own flying machine some day.”
    Young Boy (flapping his arms) – ” I want to fly up to the stars someday.”

    • People do not want to colonize Antarctica, even though conditions and support are a thousand times better than on Mars. Point is that we have centuries of data that indicate that people don’t care about remote unsustainable and deadly places. Dream all you want; but You’ll need to wake up to reality.

      • … especially when they run out of Other People’s Money (OPM), Art.

        AND … I have to ask, which FAR will they be flying that chopper under? If it crashes, will the NTSB send a team? Because, after all, we want all aviation to be 100% safe on Mars don’t ya know. Can’t have any of that “Wild West” stuff going on up there.

        • Yeah, I’m wondering if they registered it with Mother FAA before it left, and did they include its position transmitter so the fed will know who is piloting it. At least they don’t need a permit to fly over people on Mars.

  2. Muh, back in muh day we didnt have no flippity flappity electrofloppers that landed on marz.

    Best we could come up with was a kite built out of 2x4s, nails and razor blades. It take you and two of the neighbor kids to heft the thing in the air. You’d burn your fingers clean off with the string you’d so desperately cling to. The thing would shoot back down to the ground a poke your eye out.

    There we were, missing fingers, eye all busted out, and no one would go to the dance with you…that’s the way it was..

    AND WE LIKED IT!