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Ingenuity Helicopter Flight Date Pushed to Next Week

Once again, NASA has pushed back the flight date for the Mars Ingenuity Helicopter. The most recent status update of the agency said that the original flight date of April 11th will be rescheduled to the next week. Before the flight, NASA needs to reinstall the software to fix a problem that arose when engineers tried to switch the helicopter from pre-flight to flight mode.

NASA’s Pasadena, California’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is the facility that manages the helicopter’s activity. It is currently reviewing the software updates. It has laid out a four-step procedure that needs to be accomplished before the flight date can be scheduled. The four steps are:

  • Diagnose the issue and develop potential solutions
  • Develop/validate and upload software
  • Load flight software onto flight controllers
  • Boot Ingenuity on new flight software

NASA said, “Our best estimate of a targeted flight date is fluid right now, but we are working toward achieving these milestones and will set a flight date next week.” On February 18th, the Ingenuity arrived at Mars along with the Perseverance rover. It made the long trek out to the red planet tucked inside the rover’s belly.

The little chopper parted ways from the Perseverance and it is now preparing to take the skies during a month-long test campaign. Once the helicopter is successful, it will be the first powered and guided flight on another planet. A handful of other test flights are to follow for over a month-long campaign that aims to show the aerial exploration is feasible in Mars’ thin atmosphere.

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