NASA announces Mars helicopters’ next flight attempt

After correcting some software issues on its Martian Ingenuity helicopter, NASA has announced that Monday, April 19, is its next flight attempt. Viewers can watch live online starting at 6:15 a.m. Eastern time.

Ingenuity was originally scheduled for NASA’s historic first-ever attempt to fly a helicopter on another planet several times, the last being on April 14. But a software issue meant its takeoff had to be scrubbed. The Ingenuity team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory came up with a software fix and uploaded it to Ingenuity 150 million miles distant on Mars. It took over 14 minutes traveling at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second) to reach the helicopter on the Red Planet.

Ingenuity had been successfully deployed from the underbelly of the Perseverance rover in a series of carefully choreographed actions to release and deploy the helicopter the last few inches to the surface of Mars. This was the final step to become a separate part of the mission after the helicopter’s mother ship, Perseverance, made its dramatic landing in February.

Aeronautical and space exploration history will be made with Ingenuity’s first flight on another planet. Ingenuity carries a piece of storied history tucked under its solar panel — muslin fabric from the Wright Flyer that made the first flight ever in 1903.

Read more about Ingenuity’s development and how its flight technology is helping farmers.

Oh, and be sure to tune in for the April 22 launch attempt for NASA’s Crew-2 Mission to the International Space Station. Four astronauts are set for liftoff aboard the Space X Crew Dragon Endeavor spacecraft at 6:11 a.m. Eastern from NASA Kennedy Space Center. Watch live broadcasts beginning at 2 a.m. Eastern.

All in all, a busy week for NASA and early rising for those who want to watch live.

Follow my daily blog to keep up with the latest news in astronomy and space exploration. You can email me at skyguyinva@gmail.com. Find me on Twitter at @SkyGuyinVA.

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