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AeroVironment’s drone launch on Mars delayed

By   /   Monday, April 12th, 2021  /   Comments Off on AeroVironment’s drone launch on Mars delayed

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Ingenuity, a helicopter drone made by AeroVironment in Simi Valley, is lowered from the Perseverance rover onto the surface of Mars on March 30. (NASA courtesy photo)

Ingenuity, the helicopter drone developed by Simi Valley-based AeroVironment, has had its first experimental flight on Mars delayed, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Ingenuity, which landed on Mars on the Perseverance rover in February, was scheduled for its first takeoff on April 11. The flight has been rescheduled to no earlier than April 14, NASA said in an April 10 news release.

When Ingenuity does take flight, it will be the first man-made aircraft to fly on another planet.

NASA said the reason for the delay was due to data that arrived from the Ingenuity helicopter on April 9. During a high-speed spin test of the rotors, the command sequence controlling the test ended early due to a “watchdog” timer expiration.

According to NASA, the watchdog timer oversees the command sequence and alerts the system to any potential issues. 

The error sequence occurred while the helicopter was transitioning from “pre-flight” to “flight” mode. 

The helicopter remains “safe and healthy,” NASA said, and was able to communicate its full telemetry set to Earth.

The Ingenuity team is reviewing the data to understand the issue. After that, the team will reschedule the full-speed test.

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