CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. NASA's new Orion spacecraft streaked toward orbit Friday on a high-stakes test flight meant to usher in a new era of human exploration leading ultimately to Mars.
The unmanned orbital journey began with a sunrise liftoff witnessed by thousands of NASA guests. Parts of the spacecraft peeled away exactly as planned, falling back toward Earth as onboard cameras provided stunning views of our blue, cloud-covered planet.
"The star of the day is Orion," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Jr., back for the second morning in a row. He called it "Day One of the Mars era."
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Orion's debut will be brief — just 4½ hours from launch to splashdown, with two orbits of Earth. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS