India Launches First Moon Mission

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2008 8:58 PM CDT
In this undated photo provided by the Indian Space Research Organization, Chandrayaan-1, India's maiden lunar mission, sits on the launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – India has launched its first mission to the moon, the BBC reports. The unmanned Chandrayaan 1 spacecraft blasted off smoothly from southern Andhra Pradesh. The robotic probe is scheduled to orbit the moon for two years, during which time it will compile a 3-D atlas of the surface and search for minerals and water. China and Japan already have crafts orbiting the moon, and India was under pressure not to fall behind in the Asian space race.