NASA's mission to Mars set for Saturday, May 5; launch visible from SoCal skies

An artist's rendering of a rocket launching with the InSight spacecraft, via NASA.

NASA is planning their next mission to Mars, and it's scheduled to launch in the early morning hours on Saturday, May 5th from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The mission will be NASA's first-ever to study the Red Planet. The InSight Mars Lander will be the first to explore Mars' deep interior. It will investigate processes that shaped the rocky planets of the inner solar system more than 4 billion years ago.

InSight is targeted to launch at 4:05am Pacific Time / 7:05am Eastern Time on Saturday, May 5, 2018 from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on the 189-foot-tall United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. 

In clear skies, the InSight launch should be viewable up and down the California coast, especially for residents as far north as Bakersfield and as far south as Rosarito, Mexico. The rocket will rise in the predawn sky then head south, parallel to the coast line.

If you live in California, there are two viewing sites for the public in Lompoc, California. For more information on these sites, visit the InSight web page.  NASA will also provide live televised coverage at their website as well.

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