NASA flew the 4-pound craft for 39.1 seconds to an altitude of about 10 feet above the surface. The helicopter’s rotors spun to more than 2,500 revolutions per minute, which is far faster than a helicopter on Earth due to the thin atmosphere of Mars’ environment. The agency described as “a Wright Brothers moment” in space.
“Ingenuity is reporting having performed spin up, takeoff, climb, hover, descent, landing and spin down,” NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory flight control said on a webcast.
“Now, 117 years after the Wright brothers succeeded in making the first flight on our planet, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has succeeded in performing this amazing feat on another world,” NASA associate administrator for science Thomas Zurbuchen said in a statement. “While these two iconic moments in aviation history may be separated by time and 173 million miles of space, they now will forever be linked.”
To make it even more historic, the helicopter carried a tiny piece of fabric from the wing of Flyer 1, the Wright brothers’ aircraft that in 1903 made the first powered flights on Earth.