NASA’s Mars helicopter delays first flight

NASA has chosen to reschedule its Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s first experimental flight on the Red Planet to no earlier than April 14, the agency announced on Sunday.

The flight, the first powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet, was originally scheduled for late Sunday.

During a high-speed spin test of the rotors on Friday, the command sequence controlling the test ended early due to a “watchdog” timer expiration. This occurred as it was trying to transition the flight computer from “Pre-Flight” to “Flight” mode, according to NASA.

The helicopter is safe and healthy and communicated its full telemetry set to Earth, said NASA.

The helicopter team is reviewing telemetry to diagnose and understand the issue. Following that, they will reschedule the full-speed test.

Ingenuity arrived at Mars’ Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, attached to the belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover. The helicopter is a technology demonstration with a planned test flight duration of up to 30 Martian days.