India Launches First Mars Mission

India has successfully launched a rocket to Mars, with the aim of becoming the first Asian nation to reach the Red Planet. The country's Mars orbiter mission blasted off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, in the bay of Bengal. It's aim is to test the technological capability to reach Mars orbit, as well as searching for Methane in the Martian atmosphere. The launch is the latest in the developing Asian space race between India and China, with China's own Mars-exploration probe failing to leave Earth's orbit when launched in 2011. If successful India will become the fourth space agency to reach Mars, after the US, Russia and Europe. Lacking the power to fly directly, the spacecraft will orbit Earth for nearly a month, building up enough velocity to break free from its gravitational pull. The spacecraft will then enter an interplanetary trajectory for 300 days, reaching Mars orbit in 2014.

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