NEW DEHLI, November 5 (Itar-Tass) - India has launched a rocket carrying a probe intended to orbit Mars from the spaceport on Sriharikota island in the Gulf of Bengal on Tuesday. The Mars Orbiter Mission called Mangalyaan was announced 15 months ago by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The probe will be first injected into the Earth’s orbit and then, after a number of maneuvers, will head for Mars, presumably on December 1, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) reported. The vehicle is to reach the Martian orbit next September after traveling about 780 million kilometres. Determining the place and time of the probe’s start from the Earth’s orbit to Mars was the main challenge of this mission, ISRO Chairman Dr K. Radhakrishnan said Monday.
The probe has been equipped with a sensor for research of the Martian atmosphere’s composition, a thermal infrared spectrometer, a camera to take images of the surface of the planet and its moons - Deimos and Fobos, and other instruments.
Indian scientists and technicians had only a five-minute time slot for a successful launch. If the attempt failed, they would have had to wait for no less than two years until the next favourable moment for a Martian expedition.
India is hopeful to join Russia, the US and the European Space Agency in researching the Red Planet with unmanned space probes.