May 5, 2018 / 11:26 AM / 10 months ago

Atlas 5 rocket launches, sending NASA's robot to Mars

The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas-V rocket is seen with NASA's InSight spacecraft onboard, at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, U.S., May 3, 2018. 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. Picture taken on May 3, 2018. Courtesy of NASA/Bill Ingalls/Handout via REUTERS

(Reuters) - An Atlas 5 rocket soared into space early on Saturday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, carrying NASA’s first robotic lander designed for exploring the deep interior of another planet on its voyage to Mars.

The Mars InSight probe lifted off from the central California coast at 4:05 a.m. PDT, treating early-rising residents across a wide swath of the state to the luminous predawn spectacle of the first U.S. interplanetary spacecraft to be launched over the Pacific.

Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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