Mangalyaan
India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, carrying the Mars orbiter, blasts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in SriharikotaReuters

Mangalyaan, India's first mission to Mars, was successfully launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh at 2.38 pm on Tuesday.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman Dr K Radhakrishnan announced from the control room that the launch rocket - Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C25 (PSLV-C25) - had placed Mars Orbiter Spacecraft into an elliptical orbit around Earth about 44 minutes after its take off from Sriharikota spaceport.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh contacted Radhakrishnan to congratulate him and his team for the successful launch.

"I congratulate all scientists of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) for the successful launch today of the Mars Orbiter mission, the most complex space mission of the country. The successful launch is the first step towards a successful mission and is testimony to ISRO's mastery of the launch vehicle technology," said the PM.

"I wish the ISRO scientists all the best for the delicate next steps in this ambitious and long mission to Mars which will be the most significant milestone in our space programme and I remain confident that they will do the country proud."

President Pranab Mukherjee said, "This launch of India's first dedicated Mars Orbiter Spacecraft is a significant milestone in the progress of our space programme and space applications. This day shall go down as a landmark in our space programme, a day which will inspire our scientists to make even greater strides in achieving our national goals in the field of space."

India hopes to become the fourth country in the world, after the US, Russia and Europe, to reach the Red Planet. It may be recalled that Japan's mission to Mars failed in 2003 and China's attempt in 2012 also failed.

India's ₹450 crore ($73 million) Mars Orbiter Mission - Mangalyaan - was built in a record 15 months. It will go around the earth for 25 days, before embarking on a nine-month long journey from 1 December and enter Mars' orbit on 24 September 2014.

India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, carrying the Mars orbiter, blasts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota
India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, carrying the Mars orbiter, blasts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota
India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, carrying the Mars orbiter, blasts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota
India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, carrying the Mars orbiter, blasts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota
India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, carrying the Mars orbiter, lifts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota
India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, carrying the Mars orbiter, lifts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota