Did you know that pieces of the original history-making Wright Brothers’ “1903 Wright Flyer I” have orbited the Earth and been to moon? Now, NASA collaborated with Carillon Historical Park and the Wright Brothers National Museum to send another piece of the flyer to Mars to take part in another of humanity’s historical achievements. The Perseverance rover rolls on Mars now, holding the helicopter craft Ingenuity, onboard which is a piece of the Wright Flyer I’s wing fabric.
The 1903 Wright Flyer I is the craft that made the first controlled, sustained flight on Earth with a powered, heavier-than-air, piloted machine. They’ve taken a part of this original craft and placed it onboard the NASA Ingenuity. NASA Ingenuity will soon be “the first heavier-than-air aircraft to make the first powered, controlled, and sustained flight on another world.”
“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,” said Amanda Wright Land and Stephen Wright. “The NASA Mars Perseverance Team has found a way to coax another 330 million miles out of the original Pride of the West fabric that Wilbur and Orville thought they retired from their Flyers broken wings on December 17, 1903.”
Amanda Wright Lane and Stephen Wright are Wilbur and Orville’s great grand-niece and nephew. They spoke for the Wright brothers for the announcement of this historic event.
Above you’ll see a part (or THE part) of the fabric on Mars now. The photo was captured by Dayton History, representing the Carillon Historical Park (A Dayton History Experience). UPDATE: The bit that’s on the craft is approximately postage-size – tiny!
The NASA Ingenuity helicopter is approximately 4 pounds (1.8 kilogram) and is currently riding along with Perseverance on the surface of Mars. The Wright Flyer I wing material is attached to the bottom of the solar panel which sits at the top of the helicopter, above both of its two rotor blades.
The rover will drop the helicopter at its chosen take-off spot near the Jezero Crater on Mars. The helicopter will attempt several test flights on Mars before it is left to live out the rest of its existence on the surface of the red planet.