‘I am honored to be a part of this historical event’

Palestinian engineer Loay Elbasyouni told AA reporter about the success story from the Gaza region, which was turned into an open-air prison in Palestine under the Israeli blockade, to the construction of the Ingenuity helicopter at NASA.

Elbasyouni, who was born and raised in Beit Honoun, Gaza, said that he came to Lousville University in the USA as a student in 1998, sometimes he made his pocket money by distributing pizza after school and completed his higher education in electrical engineering with his own means.

Ingenuity, a mini helicopter that NASA landed on Mars, sends its first photos

After graduating, Gazan engineer, who made researches on alternative energy, electric vehicles and planes, was assigned to the team that built the helicopter sent to Mars for NASA at the last private company he worked for.

“Mars helicopter used to be just an idea”

Elbasyouni stated that he was selected to the NASA team while specializing and working on super light, electronic power, electric aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles.

Elbasyouni continued as follows:

“The helicopter, which was thought to fly on Mars, was previously ‘Could it be?’ Then we developed a miniature flying device like a toy. I even tried it at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California, it was not a good test. But with what we learned from the tests and many mathematical calculations, we arrived at a model that could fly.

Stating that he sometimes doubted whether a device that could fly in the Martian atmosphere would be possible during his studies, Elbousyouni said, “We had to design an engine that could operate at very cold temperatures, around 1500 grams, its design, construction, integration was really complicated.” he spoke.

Stating that the project started in 2014 with different teams in different fields, Elbasyouni said that he worked as chief engineer in Ingenuity’s design and construction team for more than 4 years with other NASA engineers.

“I couldn’t hold back my tears while watching NASA’s live stream”

Stating that he was very happy when he first learned that he was included in the helicopter project team to be sent to Mars from NASA, Elbasyouni continued as follows:

“I was very excited when I was accepted into the post. I knew we were going to send something to Mars. The day (Ingenuity) landed safely on Mars, I said okay, I was able to put a piece of hardware on Mars to work there, which was very pleasing. When he made his first flight, I woke the half of the building in the middle of the night with a scream of joy. I couldn’t hold back my tears while watching NASA’s live stream. “

Stating that he felt like the Wright brothers who made the first flight attempt in the USA in the early 1900s, Elbasyouni said, “I was very worried, we took a big risk, but now I feel like a part of a historical event.” said.

Stating that Ingenuity was successfully flown 4 times, Elbasyouni said, “He sent very impressive pictures. It actually exceeded expectations. I am excitedly waiting for him to make his fifth and last flight. ” he spoke.

Stating that he will continue his engineering studies in the fields of electric vehicles and aviation, Elbasyouni said that he is interested in new discoveries in the field of electric energy use and that he can establish his own company in the future.

Couldn’t go to Gaza, where he was born and raised, for 12 years due to the blockade

Explaining that he grew up in Gaza, which is under Israeli occupation, as the son of one of Palestine’s leading surgeons, 42-year-old Elbasyouni emphasized that the citizens of his country are very diligent people despite the bad conditions.

Elbasyouni said, “There were many successful people in my family. Since I was young, I haven’t looked at conditions in a way that prevents me from success. I believed I would be successful. To be honest, I still haven’t achieved my goals. ” used the expressions.

Emphasizing that he could not see his family for 12 years and his brothers for 14 years because Gaza was under the siege of Israel, Elbasyouni said, “It was really difficult not to be able to visit and see the family because the borders were closed. Although we chose to be in Gaza, my family had to settle in Germany from Gaza to be close to us. ” said.

Elbasyouni continued his words as follows:

“There is nothing legally preventing me from going to Gaza, but this is a risk. As an engineer, I can estimate a timetable by calculating everything, but if I want to visit Gaza, is there a schedule for that? I cannot answer that. When the borders will open, when will they close, will I be able to go in, how long it will take me to go out if I do, I don’t know any of them. For this, I will have to risk my career, my job. “

Explaining that his family, who once went to Gaza from Germany, was stranded in the city for 9 months, Elbasyouni said, “Their visas have expired, they went to the Rafah border gate every day to see if it was opened. It is not that easy, it is very difficult to explain.” he spoke.

Underlining that the people of Gaza should never lose hope despite all the difficulties, Elbasyouni said, “I worked on a mission that I call the ‘impossible mission’. We made the seemingly impossible possible. I dreamed it came true. They, too, should not give up hope of making their dreams come true. ” said.

The reconnaissance vessel Perseverance and mini helicopter Ingenuity sent to Mars

Built at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and powered by plutonium fuel, the Perseverance probe landed on Mars on February 18, about 7 months after launch on July 30, 2020.

Among the vehicles sent to Mars, 2.4 billion dollars were spent for the infrastructure works for the realization of Perseverance’s new mission on the Red Planet, and 300 million dollars were spent for the system that enabled the vehicle to land and operate.

The mini helicopter Ingenuity, which was sent with Perseverance, went down in history as “the first aircraft to be flown on another planet” with its first successful flight of about 1 minute on April 19th.

Ingenuity, which made a total of 4 flights and weighed approximately 1.5 kilograms, stayed in the air for about 2 minutes at an altitude of 5 to 6 meters from Perseverance on each flight and sent the images taken with the color camera on it to the world.

Because the density of the atmosphere on Mars is about 1 percent of that of Earth, NASA engineers used ultra-light materials to lift the Ingenuity off the ground, and 4 propellers, each 123 centimeters long, spinning faster than required on Earth.