By Rishi Iyengar
December 18, 2014

India added another feather to its space-exploration cap on Thursday, successfully launching the country’s heaviest ever rocket from its Sriharikota base in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

The 630-ton Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) MK III carried a capsule capable of launching two or three astronauts into space, the BBC reported. The rocket is also capable of carrying satellites weighing up to 4,000 kg, potentially allowing India to avoid reliance on foreign launchers for its spacecraft.

According to the Indian Space and Research Organization, the capsule “safely splashed down into the Bay of Bengal.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his congratulations, calling the launch “yet another triumph of brilliance & hard work of our scientists.”

Thursday’s achievement comes about three months after India successfully placed a satellite into Mars’ orbit, becoming only the fourth global power to do so.

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