New Delhi: India's maiden spacecraft to Mars has successfully left the Earth's orbit and is now cruising towards Mars after a crucial and tricky midnight operation. The complex operation began as planned at 49 minutes after midnight and lasted 23 minutes in which the spacecraft was given a nudge so that it escapes the Earth's gravity. (India's mission to Mars: Full coverage)
Indian Space Research Organisation or ISRO says the operation went off successfully and the Mangalyaan has left the Earth's embrace and is now on course on the highway to Mars.
"The trans-Mars injection has been completed successfully," K Radhakrishnan, Chairman of ISRO, told NDTV.
Launched on November 5, 2013 from Sriharikota, the Mangalyaan had till now been rotating around the Earth. It was given that final extra kick through a sling shot mechanism as it began its over 750 million kilometer journey to Mars. Each day, the Mangalyaan will cover over 2.5 million km hurtling into space till it is slowed down to be captured by Mars.
About 250 scientists from ISRO monitored its health. The command for the spacecraft to leave the Earth's orbit and head into the Sun-centric orbit was executed from the Mission Operations Center in Bangalore.
The success of the mission can be assessed only when the spacecraft reaches the Martian orbit on September 24, 2014. Once it reaches Mars, the Mangalyaan will revolve around the 'Red Planet' for six months and announce India's triumph.
However, the risks are many and no country till date has succeeded in reaching Mars on its maiden attempt. More than half of all missions to Mars have ended in failure, including China's in 2011 and Japan's in 1998.
The Rs 450-crore mission to Mars has made international headlines, at least in part for its cost-efficiency.