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Mars lander launch to send car-sized probe to explore secrets of Red Planet

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — A first-of-its-kind launch from California scheduled for Saturday morning is set to send a car-sized probe to Mars on a two-year mission to examine what makes the Red Planet like Earth and help advance the search for new homes for our species. Roaring into the predawn sky, the Mars InSight lander launch will be visible to millions of California residents near Los Angeles as it begins its approximately 200-day journey atop a two-stage Atlas V rocket. This is NASA’s first interplanetary launch from the West Coast, a decision made in large part because Vandenberg’s launch pads are less busy than the ones at Cape Canaveral’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launch window opens about 4 a.m. Sat ...