NASA postpones helicopter flight to Mars to at least April 14

You will have to wait a little longer to see NASA’s Mars helicopter in action. The agency has delayed Ingenuity’s first flight to “at the earliest” on April 14 after a test on April 9 has gone awry. The high-speed spin test ended prematurely after a watchdog timer expired (intended to detect technical issues) during the helicopter’s transition to flight mode.

NASA stressed that Ingenuity was “safe and healthy” and that it was examining the vehicle’s telemetry to both understand what had happened and determine when the first flight could take place.

The initial flight was originally scheduled for the end of April 11. If the plan advances, the flight will be a 30 second hover at 10 feet. Four other flights are in progress over a total period of 30 days.

This is clearly not what NASA wanted. However, the mission team should be careful. This test will represent the first time that a vehicle will fly on the Martian surface – a success here will pave the way for future flying explorers.

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