Early this morning the NASA Mars Ingenuity helicopter became the first aircraft to fly on another planet. It marked an important milestone for humanity in our exploration of another planet and the universe.
“Ingenuity is the latest in a long and storied tradition of NASA projects achieving a space exploration goal once thought impossible,” said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk. “The X-15 was a pathfinder for the space shuttle. Mars Pathfinder and its Sojourner rover did the same for three generations of Mars rovers. We don’t know exactly where Ingenuity will lead us, but today’s results indicate the sky – at least on Mars – may not be the limit.”
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory received the data at 6:46 a.m. EDT (3:46 a.m. PDT). The flight started at 3:24 a.m. EDT and lasted for 39.1 seconds after the helicopter hovered at an altitude of 3 meters (10 feet). The initial flight was autonomous.
After the flight, NASA Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen announced that the site of the flight would have special name. “Now, 117 years after the Wright brothers succeeded in making the first flight on our planet, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has succeeded in performing this amazing feat on another world,” Zurbuchen said. “While these two iconic moments in aviation history may be separated by time and 173 million miles of space, they now will forever be linked. As an homage to the two innovative bicycle makers from Dayton, this first of many airfields on other worlds will now be known as Wright Brothers Field, in recognition of the ingenuity and innovation that continue to propel exploration.”
“Ingenuity’s chief pilot, Håvard Grip, announced that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) – the United Nations’ civil aviation agency – presented NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration with official ICAO designator IGY, call-sign INGENUITY.”
NASA will hold a news briefing this afternoon at 2:00 p.m. EDT (11:00 a.m. EDT) to discuss the flight and release new imagery. Watch is live on SpaceQ.