NASA attempts first powered helicopter flight on Mars

The helicopter, named Ingenuity, hitched a ride to the red planet with the Perseverance rover, arriving last month. It will be the first powered, controlled flight on another planet.

Video Transcript

- Tomorrow, NASA will make history by launching the first space helicopter for Mars. More than 170 million miles away, the Ingenuity helicopter weighs four pounds, and has four foot blades. It's a tiny little thing. Unlike other spacecraft, NASA won't be able to see what's happening right away. That's because of the 15 minute radio signal gap between Earth and Mars. Mind you, it's just, you know, a whole 'nother planet.

- Yeah, yeah yeah.

- We spoke to a NASA engineer about what we can expect.

On command of the ground, the Ingenuity will turn on its rotors. Once it gets up to about 2,500 RPM, it will be able to lift off. It should climb at a rate about three feet a second, hover at about 10 feet above the surface for about 30 seconds, and then descend and touch back down.

- So cool.

- If the flight is successful, crossing fingers that it is, it will fly four more times this month. The planned launch is for tomorrow night around 10:00 PM.