CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- NASA's new Orion spacecraft is streaking toward orbit this morning 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 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. 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.
Orion's debut will be brief -- just 4 1/2 hours from launch to splashdown, with two orbits of Earth.
But for the first time in 42 years, NASA is sending a spacecraft built for humans farther than a couple hundred miles from Earth. The previous time was the Apollo 17 moon shot.