VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — NASA’s latest Mars explorer is on its way to the Red Planet.
The agency’s InSight Mars lander lifted off today (May 5) atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, rising off a pad here at 7:05 a.m. EDT (1105 GMT, 4:05 a.m. local California time) and disappearing into the thick predawn fog moments later.
“This is a big day. We’re going back to Mars,” NASA’s new administrator Jim Bridenstine, who took charge of the agency last month, said in a congratulatory call to the InSight team after launch. “This is an extraordinary mission with a whole host of firsts.” [Launch Photos: See NASA’s InSight Soar Toward Mars]
InSight is the first interplanetary mission ever to launch from the West Coast and NASA’s first Mars surface craft to lift off since the Curiosity rover started its deep-space journey in November 2011.