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India readies Mars mission for November launch
September 10, 2013, 12:44 pm

[Getty Images]

The country wants to land a wheeled rover on the moon next year [Getty Images]

India will launch its first mission to Mars later this year, according to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

The spacecraft is set to be launched by a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C25) between October 21 and November 19.

India will send a satellite via an unmanned spacecraft to orbit the red planet.

A successful thermo-vacuum test of the spacecraft with its payloads has already been completed.

India launched its first space programme in 1962. The country is now looking at landing a wheeled rover on the moon next year.

The first stage of PSLV-C25 with strap-ons has already been assembled, with the rocket ready for satellite integration by October 10,  ISRO officials said.

The ambitious $83 million Mars orbiter mission would position India in the elite group of nations who have sent a mission to Mars.

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.

The spacecraft will blast off from the spaceport of Sriharikota in India’s southeastern coast, where the launch campaign has already commenced.

The satellite will look for signs of life, take pictures of the red planet and study the Martian environment, said ISRO officials.

The satellite will carry compact science experiments, totalling a mass of 15 kg. There will be five instruments to study Martian surface, atmosphere and mineralogy.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had formally announced the orbiter mission in his Independence Day address to the nation on August 15.

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

After leaving Earth’s orbit in November, the spacecraft will cruise in deep space for 10 months using its own propulsion system and will reach Mars in September 2014.

“We want to look at the environment of Mars for various elements like Deuterium-Hydrogen ratio. We also want to look at other constituents — neutral constituents”, ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan told Indian media.

“If we succeed [in the mission], it positions India into group of countries who will have the ability to look at Mars. In future, certainly, there will be synergy between various countries in such exploration. That’s taking place. Then, India will be a country to be counted”, he said.

Source: Agencies