Mars drone helicopter makes historic first flight

Cheering at NASA on Monday as its little drone helicopter on Mars made a historic flight, marking the first time that humans have controlled an aircraft on an alien planet.

... and beaming back a single image.

Taryn Bailey, an engineer on the project, streamed it live from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory headquarters in California.

"So the image we're looking at on the screen is the image from our on-board navigation camera, showing us hovering above the surface of Mars. How incredible!"

UNIDENTIFIED: "And that's its shadow, right Taryn?"

"Yes that's its shadow. So, the onboard navigation camera points straight down so we're seeing its shadow right now."

UNIDENTIFIED: "I can just hear (Project Manager) MiMi (Aung) in the background, 'This is real! This is real!' So amazing."

The helicopter, called Ingenuity, didn't fly for long. This was just a test flight.

A camera on the Mars rover, Perseverance, which was parked about 200 feet away, caught part of it on video.

It went went up 10 feet, hovered for 39 seconds, and landed again. But make no mistake, this is being compared to the Wright Brothers' first flight back in 1903, which itself only lasted 12 seconds.

In fact, NASA attached a tiny piece of the original Wright Brothers flyer to the underside of Ingenuity before it was launched to Mars: a piece of history, making history again.