Part of the history of aviation lies in the creativity of the Martian helicopter

NASA must soon try to fly smart, as its tiny helicopter has been sent to Mars with its persistent rover. The craft carries a piece of aviation history on board: a cloth from the Wright Flyer, which flew in 1903.

First attempt of a powered flight on Mars with an Ingenuity helicopter approaches: NASA plans to conduct a test no later than April 11, 2021. If the tiny robot manages to ascend, it will be unprecedented in the history of space exploration. And also in the history of aviation. NASA has also placed this flight history symbol in its helicopter, which has been added to Another “Easter eggs” hidden on the wagon of perseverance.

during’Event Held on March 23, NASA provided more details about Ingenuity’s first flight attempt. Bob Palaram, JPL engineer and head of innovation, took the opportunity to Indicates The helicopter was carrying a small piece of cloth. ” I am primarily thinking of creativity as a test aircraft. The long tradition of experimental aircraft began with the Wright brothers who were able to invent air mobility, so that we could travel here on Earth. Likewise, we hope that creativity will allow us to open up air travel on Mars.. »

Wright Flyer maiden flight 1903 (color copy). // Source: Flickr / CC / Jared Innos

A NASA engineer points to Orville and Wilbur Wright, who have managed to make powered flights, after several tests on gliders. It took them four years of research to design a machine: Wright Flyer. On December 17, 1903, this powered aircraft made a successful 12-second flight, covering a distance of 36 kilometers, piloted by Orville Wright. It happened in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

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The two brothers realized Four trips In total that day, with 255 meters covered in 59 seconds – it was Wilbur Wright who drove the device. The original aircraft is now in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington. Certainly SignedThe museum explains that the wings of the Wright Flyer were covered with fabric, in order to obtain a smooth surface and thus improve the aerodynamics of the machine.

Wrapped around a cable, under the solar panel

A small portion of this canvas, which covered one of Flyer’s wings, traveled to Mars aboard the Ingenuity, which was also present under the Perseverance rover, between July 2020 and February 2021. One of the cables wrapped around The helicopter, under its solar panel. With this symbolic gesture, NASA may have wanted to emphasize the continuity between the two impulse flying experiences: as in 1903 with the Wright Flyer, creativity was first conceptualized as a technical show. It does not carry scientific instruments, its primary goal is to test for flight on Mars.

Note that this isn’t the first time a piece of Flyer has flown into space. In July 1969, Another piece of cloth The Apollo 11 mission begins: it accompanies the astronauts on their journey to the moon and back to Earth.

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