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India's Mangalyaan probe headed to Mars

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SpaceRef reported on December 1, 2013 that India’s Mars orbiter, Mangalyaan, successfully blasted out of Earth orbit. It’s engine fired for 22 minutes to place it on a path to encounter Mars in 10 months time.

“It may be recalled that Mars Orbiter spacecraft was launched into an elliptical parking orbit with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 248 km and an apogee (farthest point to Earth) of 23,550 km by India's workhorse launch vehicle PSLV on November 5, 2013. Following this, the apogee height of the spacecraft's orbit was successively raised through a series of manoeuvres to nearly 193,000 km. Besides, health checks of the Mars Orbiter spacecraft as well as its payloads were performed. Since its launch, all systems on-board Mars Orbiter spacecraft are performing normally.”

Reuters suggests that a space power rivalry has developed between India and China, which launched a probe to the moon on the same day that Mangalyaan departed for Mars. China has yet to launch an interplanetary probe but, unlike India, is has a robust crewed space program.

India’s Mars probe is a high risk mission. Mars has been a difficult planet to explore, with roughly half of the robotic probes sent to the Red Planet ending in failure. However India regards its first interplanetary space mission as a source of pride, as well as a vehicle for the advancement of science and economic development.

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