You’ll have to wait a little while longer to see NASA’s Mars helicopter in action. The agency has delayed Ingenuity’s first flight to “no earlier than” April 14th after a test on April 9th went awry. The high-speed spin test finished prematurely after a watchdog timer (meant to catch technical issues) expired while transitioning the helicopter to its flight mode.
NASA stressed that Ingenuity was “safe and healthy,” and that it was reviewing telemetry from the vehicle to both understand what happened and determine when the first flight might occur.
The initial flight was originally slated for late on April 11th. If the plan moves forward, the flight will be a 30-second hover at 10 feet. Four more flights are in the pipeline over a total span of 30 days.
This clearly isn’t what NASA wanted. The mission team has every incentive to be cautious, however. This test will represent the first time a vehicle has flown on the Martian surface — a success here will pave the way for future flying explorers.