spaceSpace and Physics

NASA Delays Ingenuity Helicopter's First Flight On Mars


Dr. Alfredo Carpineti

Senior Staff Writer & Space Correspondent

clockApr 12 2021, 12:54 UTC
NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter on April 7, 2021

NASA’s Ingenuity on April 7, 2021, the 47th Martian day of the mission. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

Update 13/04/2021 10:15 am BST - NASA has announced that it is updating the software of ingenuity and the flight attempt has been postponed until at least the week of April 19.

We've hit a bit of a snag in the historic first flight of Ingenuity, as NASA has moved the test of the Mars Helicopter from yesterday, April 11, to Wednesday, April 14. NASA reports that the vehicle is "safe and healthy" and the delay was a necessary precaution to keep Ingenuity safe.


On Friday, April 9, the team was testing the helicopter's rotor at high speed after successfully making the blades spin at 50 rpm in a test last week. During the high-speed test, a "watchdog" feature sent a timer expiration command as the onboard computer was supposed to go from Pre-Flight mode to the Flight version. The watchdog timer oversees the command sequence and sends the alert if there are any potential issues. The system doesn't proceed if an issue is observed, which keeps the whole system safe.

The team is working on the issue, but it's good news that a program designed to keep the vehicle safe is doing its job. While we are all excited to see if Ingenuity can really fly, it looks like we'll have to be patient for a little longer.


Ingenuity is a technology demonstration to see if it works before potentially developing more technically advanced vehicles that could one day scout ahead for astronauts or rovers, or explore hard-to-reach places on other planets. There’s never been another propelled vehicle flying attempt on another world. If this is successful it could bring a completely new dimension to how we explore the moons and planets of the Solar System.

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