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China building Ingenuity copycat

Ingenuity vs China

China’s space program revealed yesterday that it is designing its own Mars helicopter for future missions to the Red Planet.

The picture to the right shows this Chinese helicopter prototype on the bottom, with Ingenuity on Mars on top.

Notice the similarity? In fact, one could almost say that the Chinese helicopter is an outright steal of the JPL design.

But then, why not? According to an 2019 inspector general report [pdf], China hacked into JPL’s computers twice from 2009 to 2017 and stole 500MB of data. That data almost certainly included the design plans for Ingenuity, under development at the time.

Copying the work of others is expected, especially when that design is found to work. In this case however it almost certainly isn’t copying, but outright theft.

Of course, that has been par for the course for China’s space program. They don’t appear to be capable of innovating on their own. They first must steal someone else’s design, and then revise and upgrade from that. Their final products might be of high quality, but in the end their long term ability to build something new is going to be severely limited, if they cannot start inventing things on their own.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


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  • Tom Billings

    “They don’t appear to be capable of innovating on their own. They first must steal someone else’s design, and then revise and upgrade from that. Their final products might be of high quality, but in the end their long term ability to build something new is going to be severely limited, if they cannot start inventing things on their own.”

    Copiers are a dime-a-dozen, and they know they can be replaced.

    Innovators have a desire that burns, … to make their vision real.

    Those are *dangerous* people, especially in a hierarchy that is attempting to rebuild the scholar/official environment in which “The Party” can perpetuate itself as the the true savior and prescriber of what Chinese civilization is, and should, and *must* be!

  • Jay

    Yep, this is a blatant rip off of Ingenuity. I bet the software was ripped off too. Sometimes coders leave “Easter Eggs” in the code. If we could only see the Chinese knockoff’s code and I bet we would find some JPL employee who left a surprise or two that would of got copied over.

    Bob, you have the honor of naming it- “Fù Zhì Māo”, 复制猫, in English – “Copy Cat”

  • Concerned

    As long as the Chinese people are held under a regime that squashes liberty and intellectual property (or any other type of property ownership), there is very little incentive for innovation.

  • Jay:

    .Nicely done. You covered the bases

  • When the elite few “in authority” are the only ones trusted to think, you unplug most of the distributed intellect from the problem-solving processes.

    In China … and more and more, in America.

    Innovators are the Gullivers, surrounded by Lilliputians who are led by the conventional wisdom of Lilliput to tie them down “for the common good”.

  • Star Bird

    Biden their Puppet is sullying them with all they want to control Outer Space

  • MDN

    Their “copy” is simply a slapped together PR model imho. There is no solar recharge array and the landing gear is way too yall and narrow and would be very susceptible to tipping over should it happen to land on an uneven location. I’ll believe they have a Martian copter when they start flying one on Mars.

    All that said, in fairness, given the physics involved the fact that they have a similar design is not really too surprising. Counter rotating co-axisl props are an obvious solution for a compact, high lift, mechanically simple, reliable, lightweight rotor system that inherently has directional control. And once you reach this conclusion there really isn’t too much else to innovate on : )

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