India has successfully launched its first unmanned mission
to the moon.
Indian officials say the Chandrayaan-One spacecraft blasted off from a launch
pad in Sriharikota near the southeastern city of Chennai early Wednesday.
The head of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), G. Madhavan Nair
called the launch the start of a "remarkable journey." He told
reporters the mission is going according to plan, as scientists applauded the
Indian officials say the two-year mission of Chandrayaan-One is to map the
surface of the moon and what lies beneath it, using modern equipment for the
The spacecraft should settle into lunar orbit in a little over two weeks.
days later, it will launch a small probe to the moon's surface to collect dust
India hopes to follow the path of its Asian rivals, Japan and China, who
already have spacecraft in orbit around the moon.
Indian officials put the cost of this mission at 79 million dollars.
the mission will lay the groundwork for future Indian space expeditions.
India, which started its first space program in 1963, has previously announced
plans to send an astronaut into space by 2014 and a manned mission to the moon
Scientists say most of the moon maps currently in use were made during the U.S.
Apollo space program some 40 years ago.