We Will Need To Be Patient — It May Be End Of April, Or “May The Force” Day… Before We See Ingenuity Fly, On Mars

NASA / JPL provided an overnight update, on the time-line to flight ops, for the experimental demonstrator copter called Ingenuity.

The copter needs a software update to resolve the glitch seen in the first slow rotor tests, last week. So this could take a minute. Or two. Maybe NASA ought to target May the Fourth, to particularly delight Star Wars fandom, world-wide — for flight ops. Here’s the latest in full — and a bit:

. . .The Ingenuity team has identified a software solution for the command sequence issue identified on Sol 49 (April 9) during a planned high-speed spin-up test of the helicopter’s rotors. Over the weekend, the team considered and tested multiple potential solutions to this issue, concluding that minor modification and reinstallation of Ingenuity’s flight control software is the most robust path forward.

This software update will modify the process by which the two flight controllers boot up, allowing the hardware and software to safely transition to the flight state. Modifications to the flight software are being independently reviewed and validated today and tomorrow in testbeds at JPL.

While the development of the new software change is straightforward, the process of validating it and completing its uplink to Ingenuity will take some time. . . . Our best estimate of a targeted flight date is fluid right now, but we are working toward achieving these milestones and will set a flight date next week. We are confident in the team’s ability to work through this challenge and prepare for Ingenuity’s historic first controlled powered flight on another planet. Ingenuity continues to be healthy on the surface on Mars.

Critical functions such as power, communications, and thermal control are stable. It is not unexpected for a technology demonstration like this to encounter challenges that need to be worked in real time. . . .

So, on a perfectly sunny Spring Tuesday. . . I’ll smile, as I head out — to get my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine — and of course, patiently await what May the Fourth 2021 (like 2017?), will bring. Grin.


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