NEW DELHI, July 16 (UPI) -- India's government is expected to give its approval for the country to embark on an unmanned mission to Mars, the Indian Space Research Organization said.
"India's much-awaited mission to Mars is in the final stage of approval," K. Radhakrishnan, head of the state-owned space agency, told The Times of India.
"Many studies have been done relating to this mission."
Global interest and excitement surrounding NASA's Mars Science Laboratory landing on Mars set for Aug. 6 could prompt the Indian government to approve the mission, a scientist said.
The mission is likely to be launched from Sriharikota in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh either in November 2013, 2016 or 2018, the Times reported.
India's first dedicated astronomy satellite, Astrosat, will also be launched in 2013, Radhakrishnan said.
"All the instruments are going through their final evaluation and it'll be a national laboratory available to scientists both in India and abroad," he said.