Thousands of people in Florida “watched in awe as the spacecraft illuminated the darkened horizon in a golden trail as it freed itself from Earth’s orbit,” wrote Elle Richardson in the student newspaper at Marco Island Academy in Florida.
Liftoff was at 1:47 AM Wednesday, following a half-hour delay and several mission postponements in recent months. NASA’s uncrewed rocket is now headed to the moon, where it will mark the first crucial test of NASA’s mission to send astronauts back to the lunar surface after they have spent the last five decades in Earth orbit. NASA then hopes to send astronauts to Mars.
“We are all part of something incredibly special,” the New York Times quoted Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, the launch director, as saying to her team at the Kennedy Space Center after the launch. “The first launch of Artemis. The first step in returning our country to the moon and on to Mars.”