NASA is prepared to make history again as they attempt the first powered, controlled flight on another planet.
Ingenuity, the experimental Martian helicopter, is expected to take flight no sooner than April 8 and will carry a small swatch of fabric from the 1903 Wright Flyer, the Wright brothers' first airplane that took flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
It's being described as a "Wright brothers moment" by Bobby Braun, director for planetary science at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, according to the AP.
The postage-size piece of muslin from the plane's bottom left wing was provided by Carillon Historical Park in Dayton, Ohio, where the Wright Brothers National Museum is located.
NASA contacted the park in 2019 to explore a way to include a piece of their history without adding too much weight to the helicopter, and the piece of fabric turned out to be the best choice.
The Wright brothers' grandniece Amanda Wright Lane and grandnephew Stephen Wright said in a statement, "Wilbur and Orville Wright would be pleased to know that a little piece of their 1903 Wright Flyer I, the machine that launched the Space Age by flying barely one quarter of a mile, is going to soar into history again on Mars."
"The Perseverance Mission Team has pushed the boundary of the Wrights achievement propelling humanity toward a future two self-taught engineers from Dayton, Ohio could scarcely imagine," they continued. "This is truly a milestone for science and engineering that the Wright Brothers would be proud to be a part of. Well done to all!"
The Wright family previously gave a piece of fabric from the 1903 Flyer to Neil Armstrong to take with him as the first person to set foot on the moon in 1969, as well as a piece for John Glenn to take on the Space Shuttle in 1998.
Ingenuity arrived on the Red Planet in February after a 300 million-mile ride with the Perseverance rover, and the four-pound rotorcraft is currently in transit to the "airfield," where it will have 30 Martian days, or sols, (31 Earth days) for its test flight campaign.
"When NASA's Sojourner rover landed on Mars in 1997, it proved that roving the Red Planet was possible and completely redefined our approach to how we explore Mars," Lori Glaze, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters, said in a statement. "Similarly, we want to learn about the potential Ingenuity has for the future of science research."
Glaze added, "Aptly named, Ingenuity is a technology demonstration that aims to be the first powered flight on another world and, if successful, could further expand our horizons and broaden the scope of what is possible with Mars exploration."
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