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India blasts off in race to Mars with low-cost mission - Reuters


Photo from IBTimes 

REUTERS
By Sruthi Gottipati

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India launched its first rocket to Mars on Tuesday, aiming to reach the red planet at a much lower cost than successful missions by other nations, positioning the emerging Asian giant as a budget player in the latest global space race.

The Mars Orbiter Mission's red and white striped rocket blasted off from the southeastern coast, streaking across the sky in a blazing trail, and is scheduled to orbit Mars by next September.

Probes to Mars have a high failure rate and a success would be a boost for Indian national pride, especially after a similar mission by China failed to leave Earth's orbit in 2011.

Only the United States, Europe, and Russia have sent probes that have orbited or landed on the planet.

"The ISRO team will fulfil the expectations that the nation has in them," said K. Radhakrishnan, head of the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), after the spacecraft was successfully placed into orbit around Earth. "The journey has only begun. The challenging phase is coming."

India's space programme began 50 years ago and developed rapidly after Western powers imposed sanctions in response to a nuclear weapons test in 1974, spurring its scientists to build advanced rocket technology. Five years ago, its Chandrayaan satellite found evidence of water on the moon. ...more



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