India To Launch Its First Mars Mission This Year

Addressing the joint session of the Upper and Lower House of the Indian Parliament at the start of the budget session on Feb. 20, India's President Pranab Mukherjee told the parliamentarians "several space missions are planned for 2013, including India's first mission to Mars and the launch of our first navigational satellite."

The Mars Orbiter mission includes putting in orbit, in October of this year, an Indian-made spacecraft which will use the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). The satellite will undertake a 300-day journey to Mars and is expected to be put into the Martian orbit in September next year. Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) scientists expect the satellite to orbit at less than 100 km (62 miles) above Mars. India is also looking at landing a wheeled rover on the Moon in 2014. ISRO's Deviprasad Karnik told newspersons that worldwide attention is now focused on finding out if there are in fact habitable spots on Mars.

In addition to the launching of the Mars orbiting satellite, ISRO will also put in orbit the first of its seven satellites of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS). The system is India's version of the Global Positioning System.

The cosmic events of last Friday, the near-miss of an asteroid which flew below some of our satellites and the explosion of a meteorite above Russia, underscore the need for mankind to explore, colonize, and harness the forces of the cosmos. The lead is currently being taken by the nations of the Pacific, such as Russia, China, and India, with the United States falling behind under the policies of the Obama Administration, known for slashing, among other things, the budget for the Mars program.

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