India counts down to launch of Mars mission

Nov 05, 2013, 12:47 AM EST
In this Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013 photo, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel stand guard near the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV – C25) at the Satish Dhawan Space Center at Sriharikota, in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
(AP Photo/Arun Sankar K.)

NEW DELHI (AP) — India is counting down to the launch of its first journey to Mars, a complex mission that it hopes will demonstrate and advance technologies for space travel.

Mangalyaan, which means "Mars craft" in Hindi, will ride a powerful rocket first into an elliptical orbit around Earth. There, it will perform a series of technical maneuvers and short burns to raise its orbit before it slingshots toward Mars.

The 1,350-kilogram (3,000-pound) orbiter must travel some 780 million kilometers (485 million miles) over 300 days to reach the red planet next September.

If successful, India would be only the fourth country or group of countries to visit Mars, after the Soviet Union, United States and Europe.

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