India gives go-ahead to Mars mission

Aug. 3, 2012 at 8:20 PM

NEW DELHI, Aug. 3 (UPI) -- The Indian government has approved a mission to send a satellite to orbit Mars next year, officials said.

The Union Cabinet has cleared the Indian Space Research Organization's mission to Mars, set for launch in November 2013, The Hindu reported Friday.

The program, expected to cost about $80 million, will put a spacecraft with a 55-pound scientific payload into an orbit 62 miles above the Red Planet.

A rocket will launch from the southeastern coast of India, taking the satellite into deep space. The satellite will then travel on to Mars to achieve orbit, a senior project scientist said.

The project comes on the heels of the Chandrayaan lunar mission, which four years ago found evidence of water on the moon.

India is also said to be considering putting a wheeled rover on the moon in 2014.

With the approval of the Mars project, India joins the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan and China in undertaking such an effort.

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