WASHINGTON: NASA engineers plan four more flights for the Mars Ingenuity helicopter in the coming two weeks following its successful, short first flight, NASA project manager Mimi Aung told a press conference at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, on Monday.
“We have two weeks left: We believe we have four flights we can squeeze in,” Aung said. “I believe we can.”
NASA engineers hope to fly the helicopter for several hundred meters within the remaining two week schedule for its flights, the first by any human-built vehicle on another world. The second flight may take place as soon as Thursday, depending on how engineers interpret the data that they will get back on Tuesday, flight engineers told the media.
“The second flight is to take up to five meters height [above the ground] and [it will] then fly laterally for two meters and then fly laterally for two meters to come back [and] land,” Aung said, adding that the fourth flight may be as much as several hundred meters in distance and back.
The four-pound (1.8-kg) Ingenuity took off from Mars’ Jezero Crater at 12:34 p.m. local Mars solar time on Monday and flew at its planned maximum altitude of 10 feet (3 meters) above the ground and hovered for 30 seconds. It then landed after a total of 39.1 seconds flight, NASA said.