At 4:05 a.m. PT/7:05 a.m. ET, InSight blasted off the launch pad of Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, heading towards the Red Planet. InSight’s launch from the Golden State made history as the first interplanetary mission to launch from the West Coast. Those residing in Southern California, from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles to San Diego, could view the rocket blasting off into the predawn sky. The launch gave those on the West Coast the opportunity to witness what many on the East Coast delighted in for years, which was the beginning of an interplanetary mission.
Lifting off on an Atlas V-401 rocket, InSight is beginning its six month journey to Mars. InSight is expected to land at Elysium Planitia, a flat plain north of Mars’s equator. It will study the interior of Mars, giving the terrestrial planet its first thorough check up since its formation. With new technology, InSight will probe Mars’s core, mantle and crust in order to uncover the origins of our solar system.
Along with InSight are Mars Cube One cubesats, which are briefcase sized satellites designed to track the mission as they fly their own trajectory towards Mars.
With the launch of InSight, more than 2.4 million names are making their way towards the Red Planet.