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NEW DELHI, November 5 (RIA Novosti) – India launched its first ever probe to Mars on Tuesday, joining the major space powers in the race to develop advanced technologies for future interplanetary flights.
The Mars Orbiter Mission probe, dubbed Mangalyaan, lifted off from a launch pad at Sriharikota in the central state of Andhra Pradesh using a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C-25 rocket, the Indian Space Research Organization said.
The probe is expected to enter an interplanetary trajectory on November 30 to arrive at a highly elliptical orbit around the Mars on September 24, 2014, approximately at the same time as US space agency NASA’s MAVEN orbiter, the ISRO said.
The main objective of this first Indian mission to Mars is to develop the technologies required for the design, planning, management and operations of an interplanetary mission, ISRO said.
In addition, the probe will explore Mars' surface features, morphology, mineralogy and the Martian atmosphere using indigenous scientific instruments.
The ISRO had initially planned the launch for October 28. That was postponed to November 5 due to poor weather in the Pacific Ocean that hampered the positioning of ISRO’s tracking ships.
Two other Asian nations, Japan and China, have previously made unsuccessful attempts to send probes to Mars.
The Soviet Union launched its Mars exploration program in the 1960s. None of Russia's 17 attempts to explore the planet were completely successful, however.
The most recent and notable failure for Russia was in 2011 when the Phobos-Grunt probe designed for a return flight to one of the moons of Mars, got stranded in low Earth orbit and fell back to Earth on January 15, 2012.
Russian scientists said in October that they would make another attempt to recover soil samples from Phobos sometime between 2020 and 2022.
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