Piece of the 1903 Wright Brothers Flyer Getting Ready to Take to the Sky on Mars

Somewhere in there, a piece of the Wright Flyer is waiting to fly over Mars 1 photo
Photo: NASA
In 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright conducted the first successful sustained and controlled flight of a heavier-than-air contraption. We came to know it as the Flyer, or Kitty Hawk, and for all intents and purposes it is one of the machines that gave birth to the world as we know it today.
The Flyer is currently displayed at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, a place NASA people seem to be visiting from time to time to take bits and pieces out of the thing. They did so when Apollo 11 went to the Moon in 1969, carrying a piece of material from the Flyer’s wing with it, and a small splinter of wood.

And they did so more recently when preparing the Perseverance mission to Mars. The rover took with it to the Red Planet not only hidden messages and the names of millions of humans but also another piece of the Flyer’s wings.

NASA says a “small amount of the material that covered the wing of the aircraft” was attached to a cable of the Ingenuity Mars helicopter, underneath the helicopter’s solar panel, using tape. And this is huge, at least if you’re an aerospace geek who loves such quirks.

You see, the Flyer pieces that went for the Moon were there only to enjoy the ride. Those small pieces of history were not part of some machine that flew over the Moon’s surface and just stood there inside the hardware sent from Earth with people on board.

But the piece on Mars will definitely make history. Some 118 years after it flew on Earth, attached to the Wright Flyer, it will take to the sky once again, this time the Martian one, as Ingenuity is getting ready to prove in April that helicopter flight in low-gravity, low-atmosphere conditions is possible.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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