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Rover 'Opportunity' Follows 'Spirit' to Mars

NASA launched its second Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity, late Monday night aboard a Delta II launch vehicle whose bright glare briefly illuminated Florida Space Coast beaches. Opportunity's dash to Mars began with liftoff at 11:18:15 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (8:18:15 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The spacecraft separated successfully from the Delta's third stage 83 minutes later, after it had been boosted out of Earth orbit and onto a course toward Mars. Flight controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., received a signal from Opportunity at 12:43 a.m. Tuesday EDT (9:43 p.m. Monday PDT) via the Goldstone, Calif., antenna complex of NASA's Deep Space Network. All systems on the spacecraft are operating as expected, JPL's Richard Brace, Mars Exploration Rover deputy project manager, reported.

More: NASA KSC - Newly Launched 'Opportunity' Follows Mars-bound 'Spirit'

More: NASA - Where are Opportunity and Spirit Now? Track the progress of Mars Rovers' journeys to the Red Planet

Link: Cornell - Informal, weekly mission news from the Principal Investigator at Cornell University