India launched the first satellite of its own navigation system similar to GPS, a system that will begin operating in 2015.

The rocket carrying the satellite lifted off at 11:41 p.m. Tuesday from the Sriharikota base, said the Indian Space Research Organization in a communique on its Web page.

"India has entered a new era of space applications," ISRO chief K. Radhakrishnan told the IANS news agency.

This is the first of seven satellites that will make up the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System, or IRNSS. It is designed to operate for 10 years in orbit.

The ISRO plans to launch the other satellites at six-month intervals until all seven are in orbit.

Once the system is operating, India will not need to depend on other countries for GPS-like navigation services, said Radhakrishnan after the launch.

The IRNSS will have civilian and military applications and will cost some $230 million.

India thus will join the exclusive group of countries possessing satellite navigation systems, among which are the United States (GPS) and Russia (GLONASS), while China and the European Union are also developing their own systems.

India, which has undertaken more than 100 space missions to date, in 2008 launched its first lunar probe, is preparing an unmanned mission to Mars for later this year and also has plans to launch its first crewed space mission in 2016. EFE