Launch Status

- Archived Page (InSight successfully launched on May 5, 2018)

Launch Status

Launch Blog | May 05, 2018

NASA's InSight Spacecraft Now on its Way to Mars

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, carrying NASA's Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) Mars lander. Liftoff was at 4:05 a.m. PDT (7:05 a.m. EDT).
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, carrying NASA's Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) Mars lander. Liftoff was at 4:05 a.m. PDT (7:05 a.m. EDT). Photo Credit: NASA/Cory Huston

NASA's Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) spacecraft is on its way to Mars. InSight launched on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 401 rocket at 4:05 a.m. PDT (7:05 a.m. EDT) this morning, May 5, from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

There were no weather constraints at the time of rocket liftoff. Launch occurred at the beginning of the two-hour launch window.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, right, NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, Thomas Zurbuchen, center, and NASA Chief Financial Officer, Jeff DeWit, watch the launch of NASA's InSight spacecraft on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas-V rocket Saturday, May 5, 2018 at NASA Headquarters in Washington. InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, is a Mars lander designed to study the "inner space" of Mars: its crust, mantle, and core.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, right, NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, Thomas Zurbuchen, center, and NASA Chief Financial Officer, Jeff DeWit, watch the launch of NASA's InSight spacecraft on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas-V rocket Saturday, May 5, 2018 at NASA Headquarters in Washington. InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, is a Mars lander designed to study the "inner space" of Mars: its crust, mantle, and core. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine spoke to the mission team at Vandenberg by phone. "This has been years of work by a whole host of people, for a very long time, including JPL, and of course the launch crew at Vandenberg," Bridenstine said. "I want to give a special thanks to ULA and congratulate them on 128 total successful launches in in a row, 78 specifically for the Atlas V. I want to thank our international partners, CNES and DLR, for their hard work."

"It's been an incredible day," said Tim Dunn, NASA Launch Director for Insight. "It was a smooth countdown. The mighty Atlas rocket performed very well."

Following two separate engine burns of the ULA Centaur upper stage, NASA's InSight spacecraft separated from the Centaur to fly freely for the first time about 1.5 hours after liftoff. The spacecraft now is on its six-month, 300-million-mile voyage to the Red Planet. InSight will land on Mars on Nov. 26, 2018.

InSight is the first interplanetary mission to launch from the West Coast, and will be the first mission to look deep beneath the Martin surface. It will study the planet's interior by measuring its heat output and listening for marsquakes. InSight will use the seismic waves generated by marsquakes to develop a map of the planet's deep interior. The resulting insight into Mars' formation will provide a better understanding of how other rocky planets, including Earth were created.

The InSight lander is equipped with two science instruments that will conduct the first "check-up" of Mars, measuring its "pulse," or internal activity; its temperature and its "reflexes," or the way the planet wobbles when it is pulled by the Sun and its moons.

JPL manages InSight for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. InSight is part of NASA's Discovery Program, managed by the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The InSight spacecraft, including cruise stage and lander, was built and tested by Lockheed Martin Space in Denver. NASA's Launch Services Program at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for launch service acquisition, integration, analysis, and launch management. United Launch Alliance of Centennial, Colorado, is NASA's launch service provider.

The science payload comprises two instruments: the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), provided by the French Space Agency, with the participation of the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP), the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Imperial College and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The second instrument, the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3), is provided by the German Space Agency. Also, the Rotation and Interior Structure Experiment (RISE), led by JPL, will use the spacecraft communication system to provide precise measurements of planetary rotation.

Hitching a ride with InSight was NASA's technology experiment, Mars Cube One (MarCO), a separate mission of its own, also headed to Mars. The two mini-spacecraft, called CubeSats, launched one at a time from dispensers mounted on the aft bulkhead carrier of the Centaur second stage. They were designed and built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and are the first test of CubeSat technology in deep space. Their purpose is to test new communications and navigation capabilities for future missions, and may provide real-time communication relay to cover the entry, descent and landing of InSight on Mars.

"This is a big day. We're going back to Mars; we did it from the West Coast, which is a first ever," Bridenstine said. "And of course, the launch of our CubeSats into deep space. This is an extraordinary mission with a whole host of firsts."

InSight's lander will spend two years investigating the deep interior of Mars. For more information visit https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/insight/overview/index.html.

This concludes today's coverage of the InSight countdown, launch and ascent into space.

Launch Blog | May 05, 2018

MarCO Separates from the Centaur Upper Stage

It's an exciting day for NASA. The agency's twin Mars Cube One (MarCO) mini-spacecraft have launched from dispensers mounted on the aft bulkhead carrier of the Atlas V Centaur second stage.
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InSight Separates from the Centaur Upper Stage

We have spacecraft separation. Cheers and applause can be heard from the launch teams as the InSight spacecraft separates from the United Launch Alliance Centaur upper stage to fly freely for the first time.
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Second Centaur Engine Burn Starts

The second engine burn of the Centaur upper stage has begun and will last for about five minutes.
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View InSight Countdown to T-Zero Videos

InSight Countdown to T-Zero, Episode 1: From the West Coast to the Red Planet The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket reaches another major milestone on the road to T-Zero, as NASA's InSight spacecraft prepares for launch.
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Centaur First Engine Burn Ends, Now in Coast Phase

The first engine burn of the Centaur upper stage has ended. Centaur with NASA's InSight spacecraft and MarCO is now in a coast phase.
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Centaur Takes Over, Payload Fairing Jettisoned

The Centaur upper stage main engine has started its burn following on-time booster engine cutoff and Atlas/Centaur separation. The first of two burns for the Centaur main engine start will last nearly eight minutes. The payload fairing has been jettisoned
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Liftoff! Atlas V Clears the Launch Pad with NASA's InSight Spacecraft

Booster ignition and liftoff of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at 7:05 a.m. EDT (4:05 a.m. PDT), from Space Launch Complex 3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, carrying NASA's InSight spacecraft.
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T-4 Minutes and Counting

During the last four minutes of the countdown, the Atlas and Centaur propellant tanks will be brought up to flight pressure, the rocket and spacecraft will be confirmed on internal power.
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Mars Cube One Will Launch with NASA's InSight Spacecraft

Hitching a ride with InSight is NASA's technology experiment known as Mars Cube One (MarCO), a separate mission of its own.
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InSight Weather "Green" For Launch

There are no weather constraints for launch this morning. Launch is targeted for 7:05 a.m. EDT (4:05 a.m. PDT), at the beginning of a two-hour launch window.
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Atlas V Fueling Underway

Fueling of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket is underway.
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NASA's InSight Ready for Launch atop Atlas V Rocket

Good morning, and welcome to launch day for NASA's Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight).
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Workhorse Rocket to Launch NASA's InSight Spacecraft on its Mission to Mars

The rocket standing ready on the pad at Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, is a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 configuration.
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NASA's InSight Spacecraft Will Explore Interior of Mars

NASA's Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) will be the first interplanetary mission to take off from the West Coast.
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Launch Blog | May 04, 2018

InSight Teams Proceed Toward Launch May 5

The InSight mission and launch teams today concluded a successful Launch Readiness Review.
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Launch Blog | May 03, 2018

InSight Prelaunch Briefing Live Today, May 3

With only two days remaining until the scheduled launch of NASA's InSight spacecraft, launch and mission managers will hold a prelaunch briefing today, May 3, at 4 p.m. EDT (1 p.m. PDT) at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
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Launch Blog | May 02, 2018

Launch Weather 20 Percent 'Go' For Saturday

Meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 30th Space Wing predict a 20 percent chance of favorable weather for liftoff of United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket with NASA's InSight spacecraft.
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Launch Blog | May 01, 2018

Launch Week Begins with Flight Readiness Review, Dress Rehearsal

Launch week is underway at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, where NASA's InSight spacecraft is being prepared for its upcoming flight to Mars.
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Launch Blog | April 27, 2018

NASA's InSight Spacecraft Attached to Atlas V Rocket for Launch

NASA's next Mars lander is one significant step closer to beginning its journey.
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Launch Blog | April 19, 2018

Atlas V Prepared to Boost NASA's InSight to Mars

At Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the United Launch Alliance Atlas V booster and Centaur upper stage are lifted for positioning on the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 3.
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Launch Blog | March 21, 2018

NASA's InSight arrives at Vandenberg, Begins Preflight Processing

Inside the Astrotech processing facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, NASA's Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, or InSight, spacecraft has been mounted on to a rotation fixture for testing.
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