India clears mission to Mars

2012-08-04 21:06

New Delhi - India's government has cleared plans to put an orbital probe around Mars next year to study the red planet's climate and geology, a report said on Saturday.

The mission would mark another step in India's ambitious space programme, which placed a probe on the moon three years ago and envisages its first manned mission in 2016.

A cabinet meeting late on Friday approved the mission as India aims to cement its reputation as a serious player in the space industry, the Press Trust of India quoted an unnamed official in the premier's office as saying.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is expected to launch the Mars Orbiter as early as November next year, the semi-official news agency said.

The unmanned Mars mission, which will study the red planet's atmosphere, will be launched by an ISRO rocket.

The cost of the mission, approved by the cabinet meeting headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is estimated to be 4.0-5.0bn rupees ($70-90m), according to an ISRO official.

The reported approval of the Indian mission comes as the United States expects to land on Monday its most advanced robotic rover to hunt for clues about past life and water on Earth's nearest planetary neighbour.

India will be the sixth country to launch a mission to Mars after the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan and China.

In September 2009, India's Chandrayaan-1 lunar probe discovered water on the moon, boosting the country's credibility among established space-faring nations.

But the space programme suffered a setback in December 2010 when a satellite launch vehicle blew up and fell into the Bay of Bengal after veering from its intended flight path.

Plans for the Mars mission come as India's government has been under pressure to concentrate on other issues such as massive power shortages and improving the nation's creaking roads, ports and other infrastructure.

Earlier in the week, monster blackouts on two consecutive days knocked out electrical power for vast swathes of the country.
India, which kicked off its space programme in 1963 and has developed its own satellites and launch vehicles to reduce dependence on overseas agencies, plans to launch its maiden manned space flight later in the decade.

  • daantjie.botha - 2012-08-04 23:39

    A little less space and a bit more electricity, would help!

  • Johan De Beer - 2012-08-05 03:24

    At last, someone aiming do do something extraordinary again. Now THIS is news.

      mihaip007 - 2012-08-05 04:47

      while agreeing to the fact that things need to be speeded up in the space industry, the amount of money spent on the wrong and long-drawn projects and repeat projects are just a waste! We already know what the atmosphere is like on mars. Mars is far. Immediate projects should be: Space elevator, Moon orbital space station (like iss - maybe move iss to the moon orbit?), and finally lunar stations: my thought is to get into a crater and dig sideways into the wall of the crater to build tunnels to be covered from micrometeorites..! Why all these millions and billions of wasted money on something that is NOT immediate? We need a stepping stone to the space - Moon is that stepping stone and the space elevator (google it) should be our IMMEDIATE system for launching! Maybe from a floating platform in the middle of the ocean?...

  • amelda.davies - 2012-08-05 06:54

    Heavans - please don't let the orbit be powered by Tata.

  • ingi.raikes - 2012-08-05 08:06

    What ever for? Rather spend the money to teach your nation about contraception or better stll sterilise everybody with two children of more! Make a contribution to the Earth, not Mars, for goodness sake!

  • siliziwem - 2012-08-05 08:40

    did u mean Durban....

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