Today India successfully launched its first spacecraft bound for Mars. The 3,000-pound Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C25) named Mangalyaan (Mars Craft in Hindi) took off from the island of Sriharikota on the country’s eastern coast this morning. If the satellite makes it to Mars as planned, India will be the fourth nation in the world to reach Martian orbit.

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Scientists at the space center on Sriharikota rejoiced as the spacecraft successfully launched without difficulty, separating from its rocket booster in 44 minutes. The PSLV-C25 is first bound for an elliptical orbit around the Earth, which will be completed in 20-25 days. This first part of the mission will monitor its path but also work up the orbiter’s acceleration using technical maneuvers to gain speed that will “slingshot” it toward the Mars orbit.

Mangalyaan’s 485 million mile journey to the red planet’s orbit will last around 300 days. The Indian Space and Research Organization expects the craft to successfully reach Mars by September 24, 2014, provided they are able to properly navigate the spacecraft.

India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced the country’s latest quest just last year during his annual address. The $72 million project, which was accomplished in record time, is designed to stake the nation’s claim in space technology. Through Mangalyaan, India hopes to attract scientists and engineers to make India a place for future space research.

Via Phys Org

Images ©Indian Space and Research Organization