Arnold Schwarzenegger tells NASA to 'Get to the choppa!' for 1st Mars helicopter flight

Arnold Schwarzenegger had some important words for NASA ahead of the historic first flight of the agency's Mars Helicopter Ingenuity.

"Get to the choppa, NASA!" Schwarzenegger, the Austrian-American actor turned politician who served as the governor of California from 2003 to 2011, tweeted on Sunday (April 18) as NASA was preparing for Ingenuity's first flight. The tweet references Schwarzenegger's iconic line from the 1987 film "Predator" in which he yells "Get to the choppa!"

Alongside the encouraging statement, Arnold shared a video of himself celebrating the news and saying this iconic line. 

"Hello, my friends at NASA. You know, when I heard about this helicopter, right, that you're going to do on Mars, I was so excited about that that immediately I wanted to just scream out and say 'get your ass to Mars!'" Schwarzenegger said in the video. "This is really fantastic, we're all celebrating for the first time to have a helicopter take off on Mars. I cannot wait for all the footage and all what this looks like ... Get to the choppa!"

NASA retweeted Arnold's words, adding "When @Schwarzenegger tells you to do something — you do it." 

After a couple of flight delays, NASA expected Ingenuity to lift off for the first time early this morning. And, at about 6:50 a.m. EDT (1050 GMT) this morning, data beamed to Earth from Ingenuity confirming that, in fact, the "choppa" had successfully lifted off, reaching a peak of 10 feet (3 meters) above the Martian surface. The little 4-lb. (1.8 kilograms) craft flew for a total of about 40 seconds before landing back down. 

Video: Watch Ingenuity's first flight on Mars

Ingenuity flew to Mars folded up and tucked under the belly of NASA's Perseverance rover, which landed safely in Jezero Crater on Mars Feb. 18. After scouting a location for the helicopter to take flight, "Percy" dropped the helicopter on the Martian surface where mission team members could test it further, rotating its blades and ensuring its solar array was working correctly before lifting off. 

Today's brief milestone was the first controlled, powered flight ever executed on another world; an "extraterrestrial Wright brother's moment," Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters, has said

Schwarzenegger wasn't the only celebrity to celebrate the historic moment. 

Pop music artist Enrique Iglesias was also thrilled to witness the historic flight, tweeting in both English and Spanish, "Guys! @NASA is going to fly A HELICOPTER ON MARS! #MarsHelicopter Truly unbelievable! Primer vuelo en la historia de cualquier artefacto volando en otro planeta. Que suerte que nos haya tocado poder ver esto a nuestra generación." 

Celebrity scientist and host of "Cosmos," Neil deGrasse Tyson also commented on the moment over social media, tweeting "The #MarsHelicopter is badass." 

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Chelsea Gohd
Senior Writer

Chelsea “Foxanne” Gohd joined in 2018 and is now a Senior Writer, writing about everything from climate change to planetary science and human spaceflight in both articles and on-camera in videos. With a degree in Public Health and biological sciences, Chelsea has written and worked for institutions including the American Museum of Natural History, Scientific American, Discover Magazine Blog, Astronomy Magazine and Live Science. When not writing, editing or filming something space-y, Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd is writing music and performing as Foxanne, even launching a song to space in 2021 with Inspiration4. You can follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd and @foxannemusic.