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Emily LakdawallaMay 5, 2018

Go Atlas, go Centaur, go InSight!

NASA’s next Mars mission launched successfully from Vandenberg Air Force Base very early California time today, at the very opening of its first launch window on its first possible of its launch day. After a perfect Atlas launch, partial orbit of Earth, and second firing of its Centaur upper stage, it’s now talking to Earth and on its way to Mars. The cruise will take five and a half months. Landing will be on November 26, at a much-friendlier-to-my-sleep-schedule noontime Pacific (18:00 UT). For more details on the plans for cruise and landing, read my preview story.

And we have liftoff! #Mars, here I come! 6 months and counting to the Red Planet. pic.twitter.com/wBPYdZVUlt

— NASAInSight (@NASAInSight) May 5, 2018

As expected, the launch was basically invisible to viewers located at Vandenberg, but they sure felt it. For my part, I walked out my front door to see a teeny orange plume zooming above the western horizon. It looked a little like this:

Fly @NASAInSight! pic.twitter.com/FJzNuC69Lc

— Kristen Walbolt (@kWalbolt) May 5, 2018

Here are a couple of other views:

InSight's foggy launch

NASA YV

InSight's foggy launch
InSight's launch viewed over the Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Elizabeth Landau

InSight's launch viewed over the Jet Propulsion Laboratory

SpaceflightNow has confirmed successful acquisition of signal from InSight, so the craft is alive and on its own and embarking on its journey. I'm still waiting to hear about acquisition of signal from the twin MarCOs, but I need to get a little more sleep!

Read more: InSight, mission status, Mars

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
Read more articles by Emily Lakdawalla

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