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Mars Odyssey begins its voyage to the Red Planet
Updated: Sat, Apr 7, 2001, 10:45 PM ET (0245 GMT)
Originally Posted: Sat, Apr 7, 2001, 12:06 PM ET (1606 GMT)
Mars Odyssey spacecraft illustration A Delta 2 rocket successfully launched the 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft Saturday morning, NASA's first mission to Mars since two failed missions in 1999. The spacecraft lifted off on schedule at 11:02 am EDT (1502 GMT) from Cape Canaveral. The spacecraft separated from the Delta 2 31 minutes after launch, several minutes after the third stage completes its burn that puts the spacecraft on its Mars-bound trajectory. The spacecraft will spend six and a half months travelling to Mars, entering orbit around the planet October 24. Once there, spacecraft instruments will be used to map the composition of the Martian surface, look for water, and analyze the radiation environment around the planet. The spacecraft is the first NASA mission to Mars since the failures of the Mars Climate Orbiter and Mars Polar Lander spacecraft, and marks the beginning of a revamped, more cautious Mars exploration strategy by NASA.
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