India's spacecraft begins journey to Mars

2 December 2013 10:57
(QHA) - India's mission to Mars has embarked on its 300-day journey to the Red Planet. Early on Sunday the spacecraft fired its main engine for more than 20 minutes, giving it the correct velocity to leave Earth's orbit, according to BBC. It will now cruise for 680m km (422m miles), setting up an encounter with its target on 24 September 2014. The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also known as Mangalyaan, is designed to demonstrate the technological capability to reach Mars orbit. But the $72m (£45m) probe will also carry out experiments, including a search for methane gas in the planet's atmosphere. The head of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) K Radhakrishnan said the operation to leave orbit had passed off well. As reported since launch on 5 November, the craft has progressively raised its orbit around Earth with a series of engine burns.