A team of students at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base successfully flew a prototype of an aircraft that could one day be deployed into the Martian atmosphere and send its findings back to Earth.

The students were participating in the Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Land on Mars program and on Aug. 11 flew the remote-controlled glider aircraft.

“The first successful flights felt like a huge relief,” said John Bodylski, a mechanical engineering student at Irvine Valley College. “While we still plan to perfect the design, it is a pretty exciting feeling to realize that the aircraft is working.”

The space flight program is aimed at developing skills learned at school and applying those abilities to a research challenge. The NASA Flight Scholars program is part of the arrangement, which focuses on providing community college students with an initial opportunity to perform research. The Education Unmanned /Aerial systems activity which provides college students an opportunity to work on NASA-inspired projects is also part of the program.