India's first mission to Mars left Earth's orbit early on Sunday, clearing a critical hurdle in its journey to the red planet and overtaking the efforts in space of rival Asian giant China.
The success of the spacecraft, scheduled to orbit Mars by next September, would carry India into a small club, which includes the United States, Europe, and Russia, whose probes have orbited or landed on Mars.
India's venture, called Mangalyaan, faces further more hurdles on its journey to Mars. Fewer than half of missions to the planet are successful.
(Read more: India counts down to ambitious Mars mission)
"While Mangalyaan takes 1.2 billion dreams to Mars, we wish you sweet dreams!" India's space agency said in a tweet soon after the event, referring to the citizens of the world's second-most populous country.
China, a keen competitor in the space race, has considered the possibility of putting a man on the moon sometime after 2020 and aims to land its first probe on the moon on Monday.