Image: JEFF SPOTTS/ ULA

NASA’s asteroid-skimming spacecraft just blasted off into space without a hitch, completing the first step in a seven-year journey that will eventually bring us back several spoonfuls worth of dirt from an asteroid.

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With lift-off taking place in Cape Canaveral, not too far from the site of SpaceX’s exploded rocket, there was some concern that residual damage from the destroyed rocket could delay OSIRIS-REx’s trip up today. But after a review, NASA pronounced the capsule ready and capable of launching on schedule.

The Atlas V rocket carrying the craft blasted off seamlessly at the very start of its two-hour launch window, which you can watch right here.

With a successful lift-off behind it, the journey is still far from over. The spacecraft is scheduled to separate itself just after 8 p.m. Then we’ve got seven more years to wait before the return capsule brings back a few scoops of asteroid dirt—and, perhaps, some answers to our questions about how life started here on Earth.

Image: NASA

Until then, there will be quite a bit to tide us over, including the results of a 2-year long mapping mission, which NASA scientists say will give us such a high-resolution map that we would be able to spot a penny on the asteroid. We’ll update you on its progress as the craft continues outward on its journey.

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Update 8:04 p.m. And at just after 8:04 p.m. as scheduled, OSIRIS-REx successfully separated from its configuration to continue on its journey. NASA still has a confirmation check coming up later tonight to ensure that the spacecraft is healthy, but all indications are that everything is looking great for the trip to Bennu.

Image: NASA

Update 9:30 p.m. NASA reports that the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is communicating with ground control as expected and everything went according to plan for the launch, which principle investigator Dante Lauretta described as “just exactly perfect.”

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Now, the wait begins—first for the spacecraft to make its way out to the asteroid and then for the data (and dirt) to come back here.