Via AP
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NASA successfully launched its unmanned Orion spacecraft on Friday, the first step in a new era of deep space exploration which could one day lead to humans on Mars.

This 4.5-hour long test marks the furthest a ship built for humans has gone since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972 - 15 times as far as the International Space Station into deep space.

It will make two orbits around the earth before soaring back down to Earth to test its heat shields and parachutes.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Jr. has dubbed this "Day One of the Mars era," which will be followed by an attempt to capture an asteroid in the 2020s, and the ultimate goal of eventually reaching Mars in the 2030s.

Where this little guy will be waiting for us…