The United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration on Saturday launched a spacecraft to Mars to study the deep interior of the Red Planet for the first time. The InSight mission will take six months to reach its destination, 301 million miles away.

The mission was sent to space with the help of an Atlas 5 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 4.05 am local time (4.35 pm Indian time). This was the first spacecraft sent to another planet from the California base – NASA prefers Florida on the East Coast for interplanetary launches to take advantage of the direction of the earth’s rotation.

The spacecraft reached the orbit 13 minutes and 16 seconds after its launch. It is scheduled to land on Mars on November 26, where it will conduct science operations for two Earth years, or about one Martian year.

The 360-kg spacecraft is the 21st mission to Mars by the US.

“InSight will not only teach us about Mars, it will enhance our understanding of formation of other rocky worlds like Earth and the Moon, and thousands of planets around other stars,” said NASA scientist Thomas Zurbuchen.