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NASA Sets Sights on May 5 Launch of InSight Mars Mission

NASAApr 30, 2018, 8:43:46 PM

Illustration of NASA's Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) Credits: NASA

April 27, 2018

NASA’s next mission to Mars, Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight), is scheduled to launch Saturday, May 5, on a first-ever mission to study the heart of Mars. Coverage of prelaunch and launch activities begins Thursday, May 3, on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

InSight, the first planetary mission to take off from the West Coast, is targeted to launch at 7:05 a.m. EDT (4:05 a.m. PDT) from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket.

Launching on the same rocket is a separate NASA technology experiment known as Mars Cube One (MarCO). MarCO consists of two mini-spacecraft and will be the first test of CubeSat technology in deep space. They are designed to test new communications and navigation capabilities for future missions and may aid InSight communications.

NASA TV and online mission coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):

Thursday, May 3

4 p.m. – Prelaunch Briefing

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters

Bruce Banerdt, InSight principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Tom Hoffman, InSight project manager at JPL

Annick Sylvestre-Baron, deputy project manager for the InSight seismometer investigation at France's space agency, the Centre National d'Études Spatiales

Philippe Lognonné, InSight seismometer investigation lead at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris in France

Tilman Spohn, investigation lead at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) for the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Probe (HP3), an instrument on InSight

Andrew Klesh, MarCO chief engineer at JPL

Anne Marinan, MarCO systems engineer at JPL

Stu Spath, InSight program manager at Lockheed Martin Space

Tim Dunn, launch director with NASA’s Launch Services Program

Scott Messer, ULA program manager for NASA launches

Col. Michael Hough, commander of the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg

1st Lt. Kristina Williams, weather officer for the 30th Space Wing

Saturday, May 5

6:30 a.m. – Launch coverage begins.

7:05 a.m. – Launch time

Prelaunch Briefing Participation (all times Pacific)

The deadline for media to apply for accreditation for this launch has passed. However, media still may participate in the May 3 prelaunch briefing by phone by contacting JoAnna Wendel at [email protected] no later than noon on Thursday, May 3.

Media and the public also may ask questions during the event on social media using #askNASA.

Media who are accredited to attend the prelaunch briefing in person should confirm their participation with 2nd Lt. Amy Rasmussen of the 30th Space Wing Public Affairs Office at [email protected] no later than 10 a.m. on Monday, April 30.

Accredited media should arrive at the Hawk’s Nest off Highway 1, about one mile south of the Santa Maria Gate at Vandenberg, by 11 a.m. to be escorted. Media must present a driver’s license or passport to receive a base pass.

Public Launch Viewing

There are two official launch viewing sites for the public in Lompoc, California. For information on these sites, visit:


InSight will be the first mission to peer deep beneath the Martian surface, studying the planet's interior by measuring its heat output and listening for marsquakes, which are seismic events similar to earthquakes on Earth. It will use the seismic waves generated by marsquakes to develop a map of the planet’s deep interior. The resulting insight into Mars’ formation will help us better understand how other rocky planets, including Earth, were and are created.

JPL manages the InSight mission for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. InSight is part of NASA's Discovery Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The spacecraft, including cruise stage and lander, was built and tested by Lockheed Martin Space in Denver.

Several European partners, including France's space agency, the Centre National d'Étude Spatiales, and Germany’s DLR, are supporting the mission.

ULA, of Centennial, Colorado, is providing the Atlas V launch service. The Launch Services Program at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for launch management.

Media may get more information on the InSight mission, prelaunch and launch events, at:


Dwayne Brown / JoAnna Wendel

Headquarters, Washington

202-358-1726 / 202-358-1003

[email protected] / [email protected]

Tori McLendon

Kennedy Space Center, Fla.


[email protected]

DC Agle / Andrew Good

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

818-393-9011 / 818-393-2433

[email protected] / [email protected]

2nd Lt. Amy Rasmussen

30th Space Wing, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.


[email protected]

Last Updated: April 28, 2018

Editor: Karen Northon

Tags: InSight Mars Lander, Mars, Solar System