Chandrayaan I blasts off

India became the sixth nation to launch a moon mission when indigenously built PSLV-C11 rocket blasted off from the spaceport here carrying with it Chandrayaan-I, which will map the lunar surface.Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) home-grown rocket PSLV-C11 lifted off at 6.22 am from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre taking the spacecraft beyond the thick dark cloud cover over this coastal town.After 18.2 minutes, ISRO's warhorse rocket had injected Chandrayaan-I, its maiden moon mission, in the earth orbit.With the launch, India joined the elite club of moon faring nations -- the US, Russia, European Space Agency, China and Japan.
"The launch was perfect and precise. The satellite has been placed in the earth orbit.
"With this, we have completed the first leg of the mission and it will take 15 days to reach the lunar orbit," ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair said.President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Leader of the Opposition LK Advani congratulated space scientists on the successful launch.Chandrayaan-I is carrying an Indian flag which will be placed on the lunar surface when the Moon Impactor Probe lands on the moon during the course of the two-year mission.

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