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India launches exploratory spacecraft to red planet

[ 2013-11-06 10:12] 来源:中国日报网     字号 [] [] []  
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India successfully launched its first mission to Mars on Tuesday, with a program showcasing its low-cost space technology.

"It's liftoff," said a commentator on state television as the red-and-black rocket blasted into a slightly overcast sky on schedule at 2:38 pm from the southern spaceport in Sriharikota.

The 386-metric-ton launch vehicle carrying an unmanned probe was monitored by dozens of tense-looking scientists in white lab coats who faced their most daunting task since India began its space program in 1963.

The country has never before attempted interplanetary travel, and more than half of all missions to Mars in the world have ended in failure.

The gold-colored probe, the size of a small car, will aim to detect methane in the Martian atmosphere. It has been hurriedly assembled and was carried into orbit by a rocket much smaller than US or Russian equivalents.

Lacking the power to fly directly, the spacecraft will orbit Earth for nearly a month, building up the necessary velocity to break free from its gravitational pull.

Only then will it begin the second stage of its journey, which will test India's scientists to the full, five years after they sent a probe called Chandrayaan to the moon.

The cost of the Mars mission is 4.5 billion rupees ($73 million), less than a sixth of the $455 million earmarked for a Mars probe to be launched by NASA later this month.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

India launches exploratory spacecraft to red planet

About the broadcaster:

India launches exploratory spacecraft to red planet

Anne Ruisi is an editor at China Daily online with more than 30 years of experience as a newspaper editor and reporter. She has worked at newspapers in the U.S., including The Birmingham News in Alabama and City Newspaper of Rochester, N.Y.