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.
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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
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