NASA Ingenuity Mars Helicopter

The Vertical Flight Society (VFS) has closely covered the development and operation of the NASA Mars Helicopter for more a quarter century.

The idea for a Mars rotorcraft is not new, with the first paper published in 1993. Interest at NASA Ames picked up in the late 1990s, and the agency suggested that the Society's 1999-2000 Student Design Competition topic be the "Development of Rotary-Wing Technologies for Use in Mars Exploration." The competition, sponsored that year by Sikorsky Aircraft and supported by NASA, was "to develop an autonomous rotorcraft for exploration of Mars. The mission was to be a proof-of-concept demonstration for rotary wing flight in the Martian atmosphere." The first-place winning design by the University of Maryland was very similar in appearance to Ingenuity (see www.vtol.org/mars).

Ingenuity was developed by NASA’s Joint Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The prime contractor was AeroVironment, with major suppliers Qualcomm, SolAero and Lockheed Martin Space, and technical assistance from NASA’s Ames and Langley Research Centers, and the University of Maryland. VFS awarded the Ingenuity team the Society’s 2022 Howard Hughes Award

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Posted Dec. 27, 2023