A Little Bit of VFS in Ingenuity
Sidebar to Ingenuity Takes Off On Mars, Vertiflite, May/June, 2021
Much has been written about the plans and development progress for Ingenuity; see "Red Planet Rotorcraft," Vertiflite, July/August 2018 and "NASA Mars Helicopter Team Striving for a 'Kitty Hawk' Moment," Vertiflite, May/June 2020.
VFS even played a small part in early studies, with the Society's 2000-2001 Student Design Competition — sponsored that year by Sikorsky and NASA (led by Larry Young of NASA Ames) — focusing on Mars rotorcraft. The winning University of Maryland design, led by then-graduate student Anubhav Datta, is nearly identical in basic appearance to Ingenuity (see "Martian VTOL Research Studies," Vertiflite, July/August 2018).
Datta stated that the Society's 2000 Student Design Competition "established the feasibility of a Mars Helicopter and generated the first serious detailed designs" of aircraft that were capable of vertical flight in the thin atmosphere of Mars. After working as a researcher at the NASA Ames Research Center (2007-2015), Datta continued supporting the NASA Mars Helicopter development (2015-2017). "I certainly credit my expertise on Mars and my involvement in this project to that VFS design."
See www.vtol.org/mars for more on early research on Mars rotorcraft from the past several decades.