The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s ‘Wright Brothers’ moment came on Monday (April 19, 2021) when it successfully performed the first-ever controlled flight on Mars. The history was made with the help of the Ingenuity Mars helicopter which took off and hovered on Jazero Crater and landed back successfully on the Martian land.
This is the first time when a controlled flight was attempted on a foreign planet.
The successful first flight of Ingenuity on Mars paves the way to innumerable possibilities of powered flight on other planets.
“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,” he added.
NASA’s Perseverance Rover shared the video of the first flight of the Ingenuity Mars helicopter on Twitter and wrote, “Today I witnessed history. Now you can too. You’re watching video of the #MarsHelicopter’s first flight – a true “Wright brothers” moment.”
Today I witnessed history. Now you can too. You’re watching video of the #MarsHelicopter’s first flight – a true “Wright brothers” moment.
Watch it all unfold:
— NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) April 19, 2021
The solar-powered helicopter took off at 3:34 a.m. EDT (12:34 a.m. PDT) – 12:33 Local Mean Solar Time (Mars time) – a time at which Ingenuity would have optimal energy and flight conditions. Altimeter data indicate Ingenuity climbed to the expected height of 10 feet (3 meters) and maintained a stable hover for 30 seconds. It then descended, touching back down on the surface of Mars after logging a total of 39.1 seconds of flight.