India's historic Mission Mars to begin today: Can it overtake China?

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Sriharikota, Nov 5: India's Mangalyaan satellite is set for a lift-off around 2.40 pm on Tuesday from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre here in Andhra Pradesh. It will flag off the country's maiden mission to Mars. The rocket is fully fuelled and undergoing check-ups, keeping engaged hundreds of scientists.

The Marsh Orbiter Mission is the first inter-planetary mission by India and will study Mars's atmosphere after covering over 780 kilometres during a year. The mission, an unmanned space craft, has cost Rs 450 crore. The mission was completed in 15 months.

The satellite will be put into the space with the help of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle whereby it will first circle the earth before heading to the Red Planet. It will study Mars for six months, announcing India's new achievement in space science before the world.

China's mission to Mars had failed in 2011. Can India gain an upper edge today?

The announcement about Mangalyaan was made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his Independence Day speech last year. The government also faced criticism over the Mars mission as questions were raised on spending so much money while the country fought with harsh reality like poverty. But the government was firm to go ahead with the mission.

Fifty-one missions have been undertaken to Mars in the last 53 years although just a third of them were successful. Attempts have been made by the erstwhile USSR, USA, Europe, Japan and China. The maiden Chinese mission to Mars in 2011 called Yinghuo-1 failed and some believe India is now trying to gain an upper hand in the Asian Space Race of the 21st century.

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