India vies for elite role in space with Mars trip

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Associated Press

Posted on November 4, 2013 at 3:04 AM

Updated Monday, Nov 4 at 4:03 AM

NEW DELHI (AP) — India begins its bid this week to join a pretty exclusive explorers club that right now has just three successful members who've sent spacecraft to Mars.

A Tuesday launch is planned for the spacecraft with a Hindi language name (Mangalyaan) that translates to "Mars craft."

Only the United States, Europe and the former Soviet Union have managed to make it to the Red Plant. China and Japan have tried but haven't succeeded. And more than half of all spacecraft launched toward Mars, 23 of 40, have failed.

This is India's first Mars mission, and no country has been fully successful on its first try.

The spacecraft is designed to help determine how Martian weather systems work and what happened to the water that is believed to have once existed on Mars. It also will search Mars for methane, a key chemical in life processes on Earth.

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