NASA streamed video showing the historic and successful flight of the Ingenuity helicopter on the planet Mars on Apr. 19, 2021.
The solar-powered helicopter became the first ever aircraft to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet. Because of the vast distance between the aircraft and Earth's ground team causes delays in communication, Ingenuity’s flight demonstration was entirely autonomous, piloted by onboard guidance, navigation, and control systems based on algorithms developed at JPL. Video shows the helicopter lift off, hover, and then land back on the Martian soil.
"The primary purpose of this project is to get that detailed engineering data that we can see the performance of the vehicle, and then that data can be used by future projects to make even bigger and better helicopters," said Tim Canham, Ingenuity operations lead at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
Ingenuity is scheduled to conduct more flights with more complex maneuvers, distances, and altitudes. This first flight was solely a demonstration that it could be done.