May 26, 2018

Rocketcam replay of InSight’s launch to Mars

Video credit: United Launch Alliance

United Launch Alliance has released a replay of the May 5 liftoff of NASA’s InSight mission to Mars aboard an Atlas 5 rocket, as viewed by aft- and forward-facing cameras on the two-stage launch vehicle.

The 188-foot-tall (57-meter) Atlas 5 rocket lifted off at 4:05 a.m. PDT (7:05 a.m. EDT; 1105 GMT) on May 5 from Space Launch Complex 3-East at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Powering off the launch pad with 860,000 pounds of thrust from its RD-180 main engine, the Atlas 5 immediately flew into a veil of fog, restricting the view of spectators, media representatives and VIPs nearby.

But video cameras fixed to the Atlas 5 rocket showed the launcher climbing into space, flying south from Vandenberg with InSight, NASA’s next Mars lander, which kicked off a 205-day journey to the Red Planet.

The highlights video released by ULA on Thursday shows the Atlas 5’s first stage engine firing in the initial few minutes of the mission, followed by stage separation and ignition of the Centaur upper stage’s RL10 engine for two maneuvers to dispatch InSight toward Mars. The last clip in the video shows InSight’s deployment from the upper stage.

Cocooned inside a heat shield and aeroshell for launch, the lander will arrive at Mars on Nov. 26, using a supersonic parachute and braking rockets to touch down on a broad plain named Elysium Planitia. InSight’s science instruments will study the Martian interior, helping scientists learn about marsquakes and the make-up and thickness of the planet’s crust, mantle and core.

See our launch coverage from May 5 for details on the mission.

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