India has blasted off on its first mission to Mars as it bids to become the only Asian nation to reach the Red Planet. The rocket carrying the
unmanned probe took off at 9.08am GMT from the Sriharikota spaceport, close to Chennai.
It entered orbit around Earth 44 minutes later, the country's space agency confirmed.
The gold-coloured probe, which weighs 1,350kg, is about the size of a small car and is being carried by a 350-ton rocket - much smaller than US or
It will orbit Earth for nearly a month, building up enough velocity to break free from its gravitational pull.
Only then will it begin the second stage of its nine-month journey which will test India's scientists to the full.
The Mars Orbiter Mission, known as Mangalyaan, was announced 15 months ago by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, shortly after a Chinese probe flopped
when it failed to leave Earth's atmosphere.
The gold-coloured probe is about the size of a small car
Instead of sending their mission directly to Mars, the ISRO plans to place its satellite in the earth's orbit first, and then use the momentum
generated through a series of complex manoeuvres to send the spacecraft towards its final destination. If all goes well, it will reach the planet
sometime next summer.
Journey to the Red Planet: ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan holds a model of the Mars orbiter.
En-route to the launch pad at Sriharikota
All set for the launch
GO INDIA, GO!!
In the history of space exploration, 40 missions to Mars have been launched, but only 16 have been successful. India's Mars Orbiter Mission will cost
a paltry $77 million, about a fifth of other nations' missions.
Mangalyan is scheduled to enter Mars' orbit in September next year. It will carry scientific payloads to investigate whether Mars ever had an
environment in which life could have evolved.
edit on 5-11-2013 by OrionHunterX because: (no reason given)
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