NASA will attempt to fly its Mars helicopter on April 19th

Provided there are no new surprises for Ingenuity, that is.


NASA finally has a new flight date for its Mars helicopter after a bug fix prompted a delay. The space agency now expects to fly Ingenuity "no earlier than" April 19th at about 3:30AM Eastern. Don't worry about staying up all night to follow along, though. A livestream covering the data download won't start until 6:15AM Eastern if all goes smoothly, and the post-flight briefing isn't slated until 2PM Eastern.

The mission team had originally hoped to fly Ingenuity on April 11th, but a command sequence problem on April 9th led it to push the flight back. NASA just recently completed a spin test for the helicopter.

The flight will only be a 30-second hover meant to verify that the aircraft can fly in the first place. You'll have to wait until the four successor flights to see it roam the Mars surface. Even so, it will represent a historic moment if all goes according to plan. It's not surprising that NASA is cautious as a result — there's a lot riding on this mission besides the fate of a small drone.