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NASA's Mars helicopter takes flight as first aircraft piloted on another planet

NASA successfully piloted the Ingenuity Mars helicopter for its first experimental flight on Monday, briefly hopping the aircraft as NASA's Perseverance rover collected data.

Why it matters: Ingenuity's short flight marks the first time a human-built aircraft has flown on a world other than Earth, opening the door to new means of exploring planets far from our own.


What they're saying: "We've been talking for so long about our Wright brothers moment. And here it is," project manager MiMi Aung told her team. “We can now say that human beings have flown a rotorcraft on another planet."

  • The "airfield" that Ingenuity landed in will be known as Wright Brothers Field, "in recognition of the ingenuity and innovation that continue to propel exploration," Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's associate administrator for science, tweeted.

What to watch: Up to five more helicopter flights are planned, per AP — and if the test flights are successful, they "could lead the way to a fleet of Martian drones in decades to come."

"Wow!"

The @NASAJPL team is all cheers as they receive video data from the @NASAPersevere rover of the Ingenuity #MarsHelicopter flight: pic.twitter.com/8eH4H6jGKs

— NASA (@NASA) April 19, 2021

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