After various snags kept NASA’s Orion spacecraft from lifting off Thursday, the next-generation spacecraft had a flawless launch at 7:05 this morning.
Orion, the spacecraft designed to take astronauts into deep space, is on a 4.5-hour trip in which it will make two orbits around the Earth and reach a distance of 3,600 miles above the planet.
“Orion is functioning perfectly at this point,” a NASA announcer said .
The first test flight is significant because Orion is a critical part of NASA’s plan to send astronauts to an asteroid by the 2020s and to Mars in the 2030s. At this point, all of the space agency’s deep space plans lie with the success of Orion.