Mars Exploration Rover "Spirit" Launches
Date: 10 Jun 2003
Amid billows of smoke and steam, the Delta II rocket with its Mars Exploration Rover (MER-A, Spirit) payload lifted off the pad on time at 1:58 p.m. EDT on 10 June 2003 from Launch Complex 17-A, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
MER-A, known as "Spirit," was the first of two twin rovers launched to Mars. When the two rovers arrived at the red planet in 2004, they bounced to airbag-cushioned landings at sites offering a balance of favorable conditions for safe landings and interesting science.