After traveling 442 million miles in about 10 months, a NASA spacecraft has entered Mars’ orbit in part thanks to some Colorado assistance: Mission headquarters for the MAVEN spacecraft is located at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton. MAVEN, which stands for the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft, will provide scientists with data they can use to study how the red planet’s climate has changed. Last year, MAVEN got a ride into space courtesy of another Colorado company, the Centennial-based United Launch Alliance (ULA), which was featured in the November 2013 issue of 5280.

“While NASA and Colorado’s Lockheed Martin Space Systems tend to get more glory, in part because they’re responsible for the sexier parts of space missions—the information-collecting devices aboard ULA’s rockets—without a ride to the sky, their gadgets would be worthless. ULA’s rocket scientists have designed, engineered, and built rockets to deliver everything from GPS to spy satellites to the Mars Curiosity rover. And now MAVEN, which according to NASA will explore “the role that loss of atmospheric gas to space played in changing the Martian climate through time.” Or, put another way: Where’d the water go?”

Read more from the piece “Liftoff” here.