LOS ANGELES: The NASA Ingenuity helicopter in April became the first instance of flight in the skies of Mars. The challenge of designing a craft capable of flying in Martian conditions was handled in part by Palestinian electronics lead Loay Elbasyouni.
“Since the time of the Wright Brothers’ first flight on earth in 1903, to today in 2021 flying a helicopter on Mars. It’s practically like two points in aviation history,” said Elbasyouni, current senior director of engineering at Astrodyne TDI.
The helicopter hovered for 40 seconds before landing.
“Flying on Mars is basically a dream that came to reality. I mean Mars’ atmosphere only has 1 percent of the air of Earth,” he said.
“So we had to consider a lot of these things plus the environment and other conditions and design something to be super lightweight. At the same time you know you have to design the propeller to be much larger than it is on Earth and also spin about five times faster.”
After making history working alongside NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, Elbasyouni has moved on to new projects, pushing boundaries in other realms of aeronautics.
“We’re working on electric propulsion that could be utilized for alternative modes of transportation like electric aircraft,” Elbasyouni explained. “It could be used for something for space just like the Mars helicopter.”