NASA’s helicopter awaiting new target date for first Mars flight

Ingenuity to perform first controlled flight on another world

FILE - This illustration made available by NASA depicts the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars which was attached to the bottom of the Perseverance rover, background left. It will be the first aircraft to attempt controlled flight on another planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP)
FILE - This illustration made available by NASA depicts the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars which was attached to the bottom of the Perseverance rover, background left. It will be the first aircraft to attempt controlled flight on another planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP)

NASA has again delayed the Wright Brothers moment for its tiny helicopter on Mars as teams continue to troubleshoot issues ahead of its first flight on another world.

The original flight for the four-pound Ingenuity helicopter was set for Sunday and then pushed to mid-week. On Monday, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory wrote in an update, “a detailed timeline for rescheduling the high-speed spin-up test and first flight is still in process.”

No new date has been set for the historic flight, but JPL posted online that the new date will be set sometime next week.

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Ingenuity arrived on Mars with NASA’s Perseverance rover in February but only recently put its own four legs on the red planet as it was tucked away inside the rover’s belly. After a 10-day deployment, Ingenuity set down on Mars and then accomplished a critical milestone of powering itself, keeping warm throughout a cold night on Mars.

After data collected during a test Friday night revealed a possible timing sequence issue, the flight was pushed so engineers could get to the bottom of the problem.

On Monday, the Ingenuity team said it had identified a software solution for the command sequence issue identified. The team will now modify and reinstall Ingenuity’s flight control software before moving forward but first, teams at JPL in California will perform tests on a helicopter here on Earth to verify the fix will work.

When the 4-pound helicopter does perform the first controlled flight on another world, NASA teams will celebrate Ingenuity’s biggest milestone on its Mars mission.

Ingenuity is a technology demonstration mission to determine if small helicopters could be used on future Mars missions or to other worlds. Every milestone completed for the $80 million mission is an achievement for the team behind the innovative chopper.

Ingenuity is currently healthy and operating normally on Mars.

Stay with ClickOrlando.com/space for updates on the mission.


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