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John M. Grunsfeld

Blast off! NASA launches robotic MAVEN explorer to Mars

MAVEN is heading for Mars.NASA's MAVEN spacecraft blasted off aboard an unmanned Atlas V rocket at 1:28 p.m. EST Monday afternoon from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on a long journey into space. Its ultimate destination: Mars. "Go Atlas. Go Centaur. Go MAVEN," Mission Control said, mere seconds before the rocket soared into blue skies dotted with wispy clouds over the launchpad. Watch it live at FoxNews.comNASA managers had loaded 50,000 gallons of liquid oxygen fuel into a Centaur rocket in the early afternoon prior to giving the "go" that signaled readiness for the space agency's newest Martian explorer. The mission received warm wishes from colleagues who had already left the grasp of Earth's gravitational pull. "From the International Space Station, best wishes for a fabulous mission," said flight engineer Mike Hopkins from aboard the orbiting space base in the minutes before the launch.NASA is sending Maven to Mars to study its upper atmosphere. Scientists want to know why Mars...

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