India Launches Mars Spacecraft

    The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C25) rocket lifts off carrying India's Mars spacecraft from the east coast island of Sriharikota, India, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. India on Tuesday launched its first spacecraft bound for Mars, a complex mission that it hopes will demonstrate and advance technologies for space travel. The 1,350-kilogram (3,000-pound) Mangalyaan orbiter was headed first into an elliptical orbit around Earth, after which a series of technical maneuvers and short burns will raise its orbit before it slingshots toward Mars. (AP Photo/Arun Sankar K)

    Arun Sankar K/AP

    Welcome to the space race. India on Tuesday successfully launched a spacecraft to Mars, with the hopes of reaching the Red Planet in 300 days. The spacecraft, known as the MOM (and informally as the Mangalyaan), will travel to Mars on the “Hohmann Transfer Orbit,” although it must take advantage of November’s favorable planetary alignment to embark on the right trajectory. If successful, India will be the fourth space agency to reach Mars, after the U.S., Europe, and Russia. But some observers say Tuesday’s launch is just the beginning of a new space race in Asia, specifically between India, China, Japan, and South Korea.

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