Making the first formal announcement on the country’s Mars mission, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said India will send a mission to the Red Planet that will mark a huge step in the area of science and technology.

“Recently, the Cabinet has approved the Mars Orbiter Mission. Under this Mission, our spaceship will go near Mars and collect important scientific information,” he said addressing the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on the occasion of the 66th Independence Day.

“This spaceship to Mars will be a huge step for us in the area of science and technology,” Manmohan Singh said.

India will be the sixth country to launch a mission to the Red Planet after the US, Russia, Europe, Japan and China.

If the mission is successful, India will be the first Asian country to do so as probes sent by China and Japan had to be abandoned en route.

As per the proposal drawn up by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the Rs 450 crore Mars Orbiter Mission is expected to be launched in November next year with a 25 kg scientific payload.

The mission, to study the Martian atmosphere, will be launched by an extended version of ISRO’s warhorse rocket - the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from the spaceport in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

The spacecraft is expected to take nearly 300 days to reach the Martian orbit.

The spacecraft will be placed in an orbit of 500 x 80,000 km around Mars and has a tentative scientific objective for studying the climate, geology, origin, evolution and sustainability of life on the planet.

(This article was published on August 15, 2012)
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