Space.com reported on November 5, 2013 that India successfully launched its first probe to Mars in the early afternoon local time from the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO’s) Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. Liftoff occurred at just after 4 a.m. Eastern time. The probe, named Mangalyaan (Hindi for "Mars Craft"), has assumed what is called a “staging orbit” around the Earth in preparation for the nearly year long voyage to Mars.
If successful, Mangalyaan will enter orbit around the Red Planet and study its atmosphere and surface. India will become the first Asian country to have orbited a probe around Mars, beating out its main space rival, China. It will be the fourth country to have successfully sent a probe to Mars, after the United States, Russia, and the European Union.
The launch of India’s Mars probe comes at a time when debate has started in that country over the appropriateness of it having a space program when it still faces a severe poverty problem. Defenders of India’s space effort point out that it is an integral part of making that country a technological power, which would enhance its ability to create jobs and educate its people.