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India says Mars-bound craft on course

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NEW DELHI (AP) -- India's Mars orbiter mission has ventured out of Earth's sphere of influence in an attempt to reach the red planet's orbit after a critical maneuver.

The Bangalore-based Indian Space Research Organization says the spacecraft fired its main engine for more than 20 minutes early Sunday, giving it the correct velocity to leave the earth's orbit.

The spacecraft is now on course to encounter Mars after a journey of about 10 months around the sun.

India launched its first spacecraft bound for Mars on Nov.5, a complex mission that it hopes will demonstrate and advance technologies for space travel.

The 1,350-kilogram (3,000-pound) orbiter Mangalyaan, which means "Mars craft" in Hindi, must travel 780 million kilometers (485 million miles) over 300 days to reach an orbit around Mars next September.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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