India launches its first Mars mission, joins the interplanetary space race

India is now well on its way to having an interplanetary presence. The country has successfully launched the Mars Orbiter Mission, a satellite that will search the Martian atmosphere for elusive chemicals like methane. The spacecraft should take about 300 days to reach the Red Planet, but it's relatively cheap at $72 million; the MOM team is saving money by building up speed in Earth's orbit. While the mission faces daunting odds when less than half of all Mars missions have been successful, the potential for prestige is high. India's space agency would be just the fourth to reach the planet -- a symbolic win over countries like China, whose efforts have fallen short.