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posted by Fnord666 on Sunday March 28 2021, @07:39PM   Printer-friendly
from the First-Post-on-Mars! dept.

Salon has an article on Ingenuity.

In 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright flew a plane for 12 seconds, 120 feet in the air, on what is now known as the first powered-controlled flight on Earth. Now, 118 years later, the first powered-controlled attempt at a flight on another planet is about to take place.

According to NASA, Ingenuity — the four-pound rotorcraft attached to Perseverance — is on its way to its "airfield" on Mars.

The space agency announced that its target for its first takeoff attempt will happen no earlier than April 8, 2021.

Ingenuity was designed as an experiment to see if it is possible to fly on Mars as we do here on Earth. And the process leading up to the takeoff is a very meticulous one. Consider how long it took humans to stick a powered-controlled flight on Earth; given Mars' thin atmosphere and a twenty-minute delay in communication, it is arguably more challenging on Mars.

"As with everything with the helicopter, this type of deployment has never been done before," Farah Alibay, Mars helicopter integration lead for the Perseverance rover, said in a press statement. "Once we start the deployment there is no turning back."

Every move for the next couple of weeks could make or break Ingenuity's success — starting with precisely positioning the rotorcraft in the middle of its 33-by-33-foot square airfield, which is actually a flat field on the Martian surface with no obstructions. From there, the entire deployment process from Perseverance will take about six Martian days, which are called sols. (The Martian sol is thirty-nine minutes longer than an Earth day.)

Good luck, little chopper!

Previously:
NASA Lays Out Plans for its First Flights on Mars
How NASA Designed a Helicopter that Could Fly Autonomously on Mars
NASA is Sending a Helicopter to Mars, but What For?


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  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29 2021, @06:36AM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29 2021, @06:36AM (#1130641)

    Any mission to mars has a built in 18 month stay without resupply or ability to return. That imposes severe minimum requirements for manned operations. The biggest problem is lack of budget, due to NASA being used as a vehicle to shove money at Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The Space Shuttle, Constellation, and now SLS, have all been hideously and needlessly expensive drains on NASA's science and exploration departments over the last 40 years. In every case that expense was imposed through political machinations to the detriment of science. Deliberation is a hard requirement for anything done in space, but it becomes much more difficult when you are hamstrung by a shoestring budget.

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  • (Score: 2) by Socrastotle on Monday March 29 2021, @08:56AM (2 children)

    by Socrastotle (13446) on Monday March 29 2021, @08:56AM (#1130669) Journal

    I increasingly feel like this is claiming that the biggest problem with our education system is a lack of budget. [ed.gov] If you don't get my cynicism there, check the link. We spend more on education/capita than nearly anywhere in the world. Even "poor" districts in the US tend to have greater economic resources than well to do schools in most other countries, including those having far better educational outcomes than we are. So obviously there's a problem besides money.

    And so too for NASA. How much do you think the Apollo program cost? It cost $25.4 billion in 1973 dollars. That's about $150 billion dollars inflation adjusted. And that was spent over a period of 12 years (1961-1972). That's an average of $12.5 billion per year to go from basically no knowledge of human spaceflight, whatsoever, to walking on the moon. And today NASA's budget is $23.3 billion per year. That is damn sure not a "shoe-string budget." And they have the detailed recorded knowledge of absolutely everything we learned what's now 60 years ago. I mean even if they've lost all ability to innovate, they should at least be able to clone successes of sixties NASA for far less.

    I agree with you that the SLS, and other more general forms of corruption, are complete and utter wastes of money. But at the same time, you also can't just handwave away NASA's problems because of some pork. They're nothing but a shell of the organization that achieved great things a half century ago. The same organization that put a man on the moon in the past, is now trying to get people hyped about the launch of a toy drone on Mars. It's just getting somewhat absurd.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29 2021, @12:17PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29 2021, @12:17PM (#1130693)

      That is what the procedures of the US government optomizes.

      It takes something cheap and useful then over time makes it expensive and worthless. See college degrees and healthcare.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29 2021, @01:14PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29 2021, @01:14PM (#1130712)

        Fortunately that's where for-profit universities like Trump U and Liberty step in. The invisible hand reaches around and grabs the pussy.

  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday March 29 2021, @04:49PM (2 children)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 29 2021, @04:49PM (#1130821) Journal

    Any mission to mars has a built in 18 month stay without resupply or ability to return. That imposes severe minimum requirements for manned operations.

    They're not that severe. It's just mass.

    The biggest problem is lack of budget, due to NASA being used as a vehicle to shove money at Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

    In other words, NASA gets an adequate budget, it's just flushed on bad efforts as Socrastotle noted.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30 2021, @03:20AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30 2021, @03:20AM (#1131053)

      Mass costs money to deliver and they have payload limits to consider. SLS block 1 is expected to put 57k pounds into lunar orbit for 'only' $2 billion, and they hope to be able to launch once per year once they get production issues sorted out. That is over $35k per pound and only covers launch costs. Payload to Mars should be even less for the same money, and that one launch per year also covers lunar missions and other deep space operations. At that cadence and with a Mars launch window every 18 months then we can expect at most one Mars launch every three years. There are reasons that NASA is talking about going to Mars in the 2030's at the soonest. Frankly the 2040's is probably overly optimistic.

      For comparison: Assuming worst case pricing of $100 million per launch and limited to a single tower, for the same price as one SLS launch SpaceX should be able to launch 10 Starships, and 1 Starship tanker ten times, sending 1500 tonnes, or 3.3 million pounds, to Mars each 18 month window. That is the difference that flushing your money has on how much mass you can send.

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 30 2021, @04:14AM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30 2021, @04:14AM (#1131067) Journal

        For comparison: Assuming worst case pricing of $100 million per launch and limited to a single tower, for the same price as one SLS launch SpaceX should be able to launch 10 Starships, and 1 Starship tanker ten times, sending 1500 tonnes, or 3.3 million pounds, to Mars each 18 month window. That is the difference that flushing your money has on how much mass you can send.

        And IMHO SpaceX could do that with a few year build up. No screwing around for another 30 years, start making it happen in say the 2024 launch window (there's a lot of build up that needs to be done to any serious Mars effort, including technology demonstrations).