On Saturday at 10:02 a.m. EST an Atlas V rocket carrying its precious cargo, the Mars Science Laboratory and Curiosity rover, took off successfully from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral. A statement from NASA Project Manager Peter Theisinger confirmed that all had gone according to plan. "The spacecraft is in communication, thermally stable and power positive," he said. "We're on our way to Mars".
Through Friday and into Saturday morning meteorologists had predicated a 70 percent chance of suitable launch conditions, before a one-hour 43-minute launch window was finalized.
A series of updates from the Curiosity rover's official twitter feed documented the build-up to the launch, followed by take off and first stages of its 352-million-mile trip to the red planet that will take more than eight months. "It's a new dawn, it's a new day, and I'm feeeeelin' good" was the message (paraphrasing Nina Simone) as MSL reported a clean bill of health back to NASA after communications had been established six minutes into the mission.