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Ingenuity first test flight scheduled for 3:30 am (Eastern) tonight!

The engineering team for the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars have decided to attempt the first test flight tonight, scheduled for 3:30 am (Eastern) in the early morning hours tomorrow.

Data from the first flight will return to Earth a few hours [later] following the autonomous flight. A livestream will begin at 6:15 a.m. EDT (3:15 a.m. PDT) as the helicopter team prepares to receive the data downlink in the Space Flight Operations Facility at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

NASA propaganda will begin on NASA TV at 3:30 am (Eastern), but the actual live stream of the flight will not air until about 6:30 am (Eastern) on April 19th.

At the first link above the engineers explain their decision to proceed immediately.

Over the last week, we’ve been testing the two solutions to address the “watchdog” timer issue that prevented the helicopter from transitioning to “flight mode” and performing a high-speed spin test of the rotors on April 9. These solutions, which have each been verified for use in flight are: 1) adjusting the command sequence from Earth to slightly alter the timing of this transition, and 2) modifying and reinstalling the existing flight control software, which has been stable and healthy for close to two years. The first solution requires adding a few commands to the flight operations sequence and has been tested on both Earth and Mars. From testing this technique on Ingenuity over the last few days, we know this approach is likely to allow us to transition to flight mode and prepare for lift-off about 85% of the time. This solution leaves the helicopter safe if the transition to flight mode is not completed. On Friday, we employed this solution to perform our first-ever high-speed spin test on Mars.

This solution is the least disruptive to a helicopter that, up until we identified the watchdog issue, has been behaving just as we expected. It is the most straightforward, since we do not have to change its configuration.

We also know that if the first attempt does not work on Monday, we can try these commands again, with good probability that subsequent tries in the days following would work even if the first doesn’t. For these reasons, we’ve chosen to pursue this path.

If this least disruptive solution does not work they will then proceed with modifying and uploading new flight control software.


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.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • wayne

    a repeat from me, but fairly relevant….
    (starts out sorta slow, but gets into great factoids around the 5-6 minute mark)

    “How Does NASA Get Video From Mars? How fast is the Martian bandwidth?”
    Lon.Tv February 2021

  • Jeff

    Data coming in 6:39am EDT. “Look nominal”

  • Jeff

    Unpacking data.
    Telemetry from helicopter shows successful flight!

  • Jeff

    First photo shows shadow on surface.
    Rover shows images of flight.

  • Jeff

    Congrats to team for successful first flight on another planet!

  • Jeff

    A postflight briefing will be held at 2 p.m. EDT (11 a.m. PDT).

  • Col Beausabre

    Pressure at ground surface on mars equal to 100,000 feet on Earth. Highest helicopter flight on Earth approximately 43,000 feet. So the team has made a drone (I call it a drone since it has no crew) capable of beating the record twice over on our planet

  • wayne

    I’m watching the replay right now– somebody has to play the part of Debbie Downer, so I volunteer.

    -why are these people wearing ‘masks’? Hasn’t everyone there been vaccinated?
    If not, why not? If so, why are they still wearing ‘masks’?
    –the video is pretty [expletive], are we going to get better quality video later on?
    –jeez, had to turn my sound up to the 100 level, just to be able to hear them.

  • Jeff

    Wayne/Debbie 8^)
    I can’t watch the muzzled mumblers. I have the video feed in a background window and listen. Only brought up when cheering started to see the pics.

    Don’t think there will be much better video. Think I read best was going to be ~5FPS. But it beats wishin’…

  • Jeff

    NASA Press Release

    Launch site now officially named “Wright Brothers Field”.

  • wayne

    “Muzzled Mumblers,” = good one.
    5 frames per second, ouch!
    Can’t readily find a link on the resolution and frame-rate for the various camera’s. IIRC some of the landing was at 60 fps.
    (I fully appreciate one doesn’t want to clog up the real-time transmission of data, with video. I’m just hoping the file exists and it eventually gets beamed back. )

  • Jeff

    Wayne – heard in the presser a tidbit about the video being “around 6.7 FPS” Also, there was much more data to be downloaded, but not sure how many more images might be waiting in the pipeline.

    On the Unmanned Spaceflight site there is a wealth of information and discussion with experts in many fields. Mike Caplinger, who built the MastcamZ camera, provided this link to some of its details:

  • wayne

    Thanks for the link.
    I appreciate the scientists don’t necessarily need eye-popping video, but from a purely PR aspect I would put forth the proposition: people (ordinary tax-payers) like NICE pictures & video.
    (Not trying to detract from the significance of this achievement, I just want to be able to see it (and hear it, without mumbling through non-woven ‘masks’ made in china.) )

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