India's Mars mission leaves atmosphere

03 December 2013

By Alexandra Hansen

India's first mission to Mars has successfully entered its second phase, with the probe leaving the earth's atmosphere. 

The spacecraft, Mangalyaan, will now embark on a 10-month journey around the sun before reaching Mars in September, the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said.

"The spacecraft is on course to encounter Mars after a 10-month journey around the sun," ISRO said on Sunday.

"Following the completion of the latest manoeuvre, the Earth-orbiting phase of the spacecraft has ended."

The unmanned probe was launched last month to commence the 680 million kilometre journey to the red planet, which will take almost a year.

The Mars Orbiter Mission achieved lift-off a mere 15 months after its announcement by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and was achieved for a fifth of the cost of Mars missions undertaken by the US and Russia.

India’s space program has come under fire since its inception in 1963, with many arguing space exploration is not a priority when much of India’s population suffers gross inequity and poverty.