MAVEN Launched on Trek to Mars

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft launches from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41, Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, Cape Canaveral, Florida. NASA’s Mars-bound spacecraft, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutionN, or MAVEN, is the first spacecraft devoted to exploring and understanding the Martian upper atmosphere. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft launches from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41, Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, Cape Canaveral, Florida. NASA’s Mars-bound spacecraft, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutionN, or MAVEN, is the first spacecraft devoted to exploring and understanding the Martian upper atmosphere. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

UPDATE #3 4:15 p.m. ET:  A post-launch press conference is underway now. Early reports are that MAVEN has successfully deployed its solar panels and is sending good data to the ground. So far, all the spacecraft’s systems are nominal. Controllers will be turning on and testing MAVEN’s various systems and instruments during the 10-month cruise to the Red Planet.

UPDATE 2:  MAVEN has separated from the second stage and is on its way to Mars. The launch was exactly as expected. Over the next hour, the spacecraft will be deploying its solar arrays and going through various checks. NASA will have a post-launch news conference at 4 pm EST (1 pm PST).

UPDATE:  Second stage burn has been completed successfully. Now awaiting spacecraft separation.

An Atlas V has launched NASA’ MAVEN spacecraft on a mission to study Mars’s atmosphere and climate. The liftoff came on time at 1:28 pm EST from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The spacecraft is currently attached to the Atlas V upper stage. A second burn is scheduled to send MAVEN  to Mars, followed by spacecraft separation around 53 minutes after launch.