The ambitious $70 million Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) was launched Nov 5, 2013 on board a polar rocket from the spaceport Sriharikota off the Bay of Bengal. "India will be the first country in the world to insert a spacecraft into the Martian orbit in its maiden attempt if the operation succeeds and also the first Asian country to reach the red planet's sphere," Rao said.
The state-run ISRO will be the fourth space agency after National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the US, Russian Federal Space Agency (RFSA) and European Space Agency (ESA) to have undertaken a mission to Mars.
Incidentally, NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Orbiter (MAVEN) will enter the red planet's orbit Sep 22. In the run-up to the D-day, the mission scientists will do course (trajectory) correction Sep 22. As on Sept 15, the 475 kg spacecraft was 13 million km away from Mars, having cruised 98 percent (201 million km) of the radio distance from the earth and 653 million km of the sun's 666 million km orbit. "The course correction has been postponed to Sep 22 from Sep 14 to conserve the precious liquid fuel weighing (852 kg) and ensure the orbital insertion takes place when the spacecraft is closer to Mars for smooth transition from the sun's orbit," Rao said.