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Loay Elbasyouni: Palestinian Engineer Behind Helicopter Flight On Mars

Loay Elbasyouni has made a remarkable journey from the Gaza Strip to the US space agency

Loay Elbasyouni is part of the team that designed NASA’s mini Mars helicopter Ingenuity. He currently lives in Los Angeles, California, and was born in Gaza. He spoke about how proud he is of being part of such a gigantic historic event with Anadolu Agency. The 42-year-old has made an astonishing journey for himself. He left Gaza in 1998 to study in the United States and only returned home once in 2002 before the second Palestinian Intifada.

Elbasyouni said that he was selected to the NASA team while specializing and working on super light, electronic power, electric aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles. The project started back in 2014 with a lot of different teams, working in different fields. Loay Elbasyouni worked with other NASA engineers as chief engineer in Ingenuity’s design for more than 4 years. He recalled that the team wasn’t even sure if an aircraft that can fly on Mars was achievable. Elbasyouni said, “It was very complex, I mean we had to design a motor that operates at very cold temperatures.” However, the Ingenuity Helicopter took flight on the 19th of April, which lasted for around a minute, and became the first aircraft flying on another planet.

While talking to Anadolu Agency, Elbasyouni recalled the pride and joy he felt when he was selected to be part of the team, and while working on the Ingenuity. He said, “The day it [Ingenuity] landed on Mars safely, I was like okay I made it. I achieved to have a piece of hardware on Mars.” A lot of risks were taken in the engineering of Ingenuity and Loay Elbasyouni stated that he felt as if he was like the Wright Brothers that flew the first-ever airplane operated by motor. The Ingenuity exceeded all expectations and was able to capture more scenes in its second flight. Talking about his family and hometown, Elbasyouni remarked that he hadn’t seen his parents for 12 years, who have moved to Germany, and his brother for 14 years. He also called on Gazan people to not lose hope and to follow their dreams through thick and thin, just as he had. From a young age, the Palestinian engineer did not see circumstances as an obstacle. Elbasyouni worked and was successful at something he once called “impossible”, and that should be enough of a statement about his perseverance and hard work!

Reported by: Zarrish

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