India’s first Mars space probe enters earth orbit

The first Indian robotic spacecraft to Mars completed its first stage Tuesday as a rocket carrying the Mangalyaan orbiter delivered the spacecraft into earth’s orbit some 45 minutes after liftoff. It is designed to cover the 780-million km journey to the Red Planet in 300 days, reaching Martian orbit in September 2014, for experiments to analyze Martian atmosphere and the planet’s surface. Fewer than half the missions launched towards Mars have succeeded. Success would give India a good lead in the space race against China, Japan and South Korea.

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