Imagine if you worked with a team for several years on creating a thing and then that thing couldn’t even be tested properly until almost a year after it was completed. And now, imagine that you can’t even see if your creation works in real time because it’s on another freakin planet! Well, that is exactly the experience of my guest Taryn Bailey, a mechanical engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in California. Taryn is a part of the team that built Ingenuity, the helicopter that proved that controlled flight on another planet is possible.
I’m a child of the sixties and joined the NASA junior space program as a kid. I meticulously clipped and saved every newspaper story about the Gemini program and watched every second of Apollo. Do you realize that it only took nine months from the launch of Apollo 7 in October 1968 to the moon landing in July 1969. That’s a crewed mission every two months to achieve what many thought was an impossible dream. To put things into proper perspective, it took 7 months to put the Perseverance rover on Mars. Ingenuity hitched a ride on the belly of the rover so when the team finally had their helicopter on the ground and ready for its first flight, they were definitely on pins and needles waiting for the data to tell them whether 7 years and 85 million dollars of development had paid off.
For more information on the Mars mission, the Perseverance rover and the Ingenuity helicopter, visit https://www.nasa.gov/perseverance
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