NEW DELHI, Aug. 15 (UPI) -- India's prime minister has announced his country will mount a mission to Mars in 2013, calling it 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," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Wednesday while addressing the nation on the 66th anniversary of India's Independence Day.
The Union Cabinet had approved the Mars Orbiter Mission on Aug. 4, but an official announcement was not made then as it was to be part of the prime minister's Independence Day address, The Hindu reported.
India will be the sixth country to launch a mission to Mars, following after the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan and China.
Under plans drawn up by the Indian Space Research Organization, the Mars Orbiter Mission is expected to be launched in November next year with a 55-pound scientific payload.
The mission will be launched by an extended version of ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle from the spaceport in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.