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India launches its first mission to Mars

India is preparing to launch its first robotic spacecraft towards Mars.

The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) will lift off at 09:08 GMT atop an Indian-built rocket from Sriharikota.

If launch goes well, the spacecraft is set to travel for 300 days and should reach Mars orbit in September 2014.

India is preparing to launch its first robotic spacecraft towards Mars

India is preparing to launch its first robotic spacecraft towards Mars

If all goes well and the satellite orbits the Red Planet, India’s space agency will become the fourth in the world after those of the US, Russia and Europe to undertake a successful Mars mission.

A 56-hour countdown to the launch began on Sunday.

Some observers are viewing the launch of the MOM, also known by the informal name of Mangalyaan (Mars-craft), as the latest salvo in a burgeoning space race between the Asian powers of India, China, Japan, South Korea and others.

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