Indian rocket is off to Mars

Sriharikota (Andhra Pradesh), Nov 5 (IANS) An Indian rocket carrying the country's first Mars orbiter Tuesday took off from the launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre here in Andhra Pradesh.

Exactly at 2.38 p.m., the rocket -- Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C25 (PSLV-C25) --standing around 44 metres tall and weighing around 320 tonnes hurtled towards the heavens with orange flames fiercely burning at its tail.

The space centre is around 80 km north of Chennai.

The total project cost is around Rs.450 crore with the rocket costing around Rs.110 crore, orbiter around Rs.150 crore and the balance spent on beefing up the ground support and tracking systems.

Space scientists at Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) rocket mission control room were intently watching the rocket escaping the earth's gravitational pull with a one-way ticket.

The heat shield had separated as scheduled and the mission was on track, an ISRO official said.

ISRO officials are hoping that the agency's crucial space mission will turn out to be a grand success.

The PSLV-C25 rocket is expected to spit out its only luggage, the 1,340 kg Mars orbiter.

The entire flight sequence -- lift-off to the satellite ejection -- will take around 44 minutes -- nearly double the time of normal PSLV rocket missions.

India began its space journey in 1975 with the launch of Aryabhatta using a Russian rocket and till date, it has completed over 100 space missions.