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NASA's Mars Helicopter Ingenuity's historic flight delayed

air-and-space Ingenuity air-and-space helicopter is scheduled to lift off no sooner than April 14 in the first-ever attempt at powered, controlled flight on another air-and-space, a delay from its initial planned launch date.

While lift-off was initially targeted for Sunday, April 11, the agency announced the delay on Saturday afternoon. 

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In a release, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) explained that the decision was made based on data that arrived late Friday night.

“During a high-speed spin test of the rotors on Friday, the command sequence controlling the test ended early due to a ‘watchdog’ timer expiration. This occurred as it was trying to transition the flight computer from ‘Pre-Flight’ to ‘Flight’ mode,” they explained. “The helicopter is safe and healthy and communicated its full telemetry set to planet-earth” target=”_blank”>Earth< teams vocalized their excitement for the historic event. 

Thomas Zurbuchen, an associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters, said a selfie image taken of the rover and rotorcraft showed the team was “ready” and that the flight would “really change the trajectory of what’s possible” in air-and-space” target=”_blank”>space exploration< battery and communicating with Perseverance.

She said the team had fully confirmed it has enough energy” target=”_blank”>energy and power<, Ingenuity will lift off climbing at a rate of 3 feet per second, rotate, take images with a 13-megapixel camera and hover at 10 feet above the surface.

“So, we’re really excited. It could be an amazing day. We’re all nervous, but we have confidence that we put in the work and the time and we have the right people to do the job,”  Tim Canham, Ingenuity operations lead, said speaking after Aung.

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Success is not a certainty and Ingenuity Chamber Test Engineer Amelia Quon pointed out that the red planet’s extremely cold and thin atmospherea> could present challenges for the endeavor. <,” she explained. “We don’t generally fly things that high.”

Aung said that they had picked their flight time with atmospheric hurdles and weather conditions in mind, though Malin Space Science Systems Mastcam-Z Uplink Operations Lead Elsa Jensen said they knew there would still be surprises.

“We hope everything will go well on Sunday, but we know there will be surprises. That’s what we trained for,” she said.

“It gives me the chills sitting here and thinking about the fact that on Sunday my team and I are going to be taking images and video of you guys flying on Mars.” said Jensen, smiling.

The helicopter team has a period of 30 Martian days to take up to five flights, each with chances to record additional data.

A post-flight briefing is expected to take place at 11 a.m. EDT on April 12, though JPL noted in a release earlier last week that timing for events is subject to change as needed.

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