China working on Mars Helicopter similar to NASA’s Ingenuity

Ingenuity and Chinese Mars Helicopter side by side.

A press release from China’s National Space Science Center provided a first look at a prototype for their new Martian Helicopter.

Their “Mars patrol drone” bears a striking similarity to NASA’s helicopter Ingenuity that launched on Mars 2020 mission and has since completed 13 successful flights on Mars. Not many details were revealed by the science and technology department about the drone, and only one photo has been released.

This is also not the first space-related product to come out of China that seems to resemble products from the US. Earlier this year they released a rendering of a rocket that looks very similar to SpaceX’s Starship vehicle. While it is easy to say and is quite possible, that they took design inspiration from US vehicles, in the end, the designs are governed by physics.

In the same way that rockets have a similar overall shape in order to deal with aerodynamic forces, Mars creates additional design limitations based on the thin atmosphere. Two long counter-rotating propellers are more efficient while keeping the center of mass low helps keep the Mars helicopter stable.

China is making rapid progress in catching up with other countries in space exploration. They landed their Zhurong rover on Mars earlier this year and hope to push the boundaries of space exploration.

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