Washington: The Kepler space telescope, a NASA mission targeted at searching for earth-like planets in the Milky Way galaxy has been successfully put into orbit, the US space agency said.
The Kepler telescope will stare at the same patch in space for three and a half years, surveying about 100,000 stars around the Cygnus and Lyra constellations of the Milky Way in a search for earth-like planets orbiting suns similar to ours.
Budgeted at nearly $600 million, this will be NASA's first such mission.
The planets it hopes to locate should be at just the right distance from a sun, and at the right temperature for life-sustaining water to exist.
The telescope separated from its carrier, a Delta II rocket, 62 minutes after launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at the altitude of more than 721 kilometres (448 miles), NASA said.