India to launch Mars orbiter in 2013
August 16, 2012 -- Updated 0535 GMT (1335 HKT)
- Indian Mars probe will be "a huge step," Indian PM Singh says
- The probe has a "small launch window" in November 2013
- India has been launching satellites since 1975
- It plans to launch a manned space mission in 2016
(CNN) -- With New Delhi's iconic Red Fort as a backdrop, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced Wednesday his country has set its sights on the Red Planet.
In a Wednesday speech marking India's independence day, Singh said his government has approved plans to put an unmanned probe in orbit around Mars. The mission "will be a huge step for us in the area of science and technology," he said.
It's an ambitious goal, with a planned launch in November 2013 for a 10-month flight, said Kiran Karnik, a former official with the Indian Space Research Organization.
"By the time the mission gets there, Mars will be comparatively the closest," Karnik told CNN's sister network CNN-IBN. "So there's a small window in which we need to make a launch and that's the reason the mission has to go up next year."
NASA's Mars rover set for test drive
NASA's 'Mohawk Guy' celebrates Curiosity
Mars rover searching for signs of life
The goal of the mission is to search for clues to the "geology, origin, evolution and sustainability of life" on Mars, according to an ISRO report published earlier this year.
India's space program launched its first Earth satellite in 1975 and put an unmanned probe into orbit around the moon in 2008. It plans to launch its first manned spaceflight in 2016, though an Indian cosmonaut, Rakesh Sharma, flew aboard a Soviet space mission in 1984.
Mars 'Mohawk Guy' inspires Obama
The announcement comes as the U.S. space agency NASA is basking in the successful landing of its Curiosity rover August 6.
If the 2013 mission is successful, India would become the first Asian country to reach Mars: A 1998 attempt by Japan failed to insert itself into martian orbit, while a Chinese probe was lost along with the Russian Phobos-Grunt mission in January. But Karnik said India shouldn't be concerned with stunts.
"My only concern, if anything, is not the risk of failure," he said. "It's the risk that the program should not get diverted to these high-visibility, somewhat prestige-related events."
Should Mars exploration be a priority for India, in light of the recent infrastructure issues raised by power outages? Comment below.
CNN's Ram Ramgopal and Christian DuChateau contributed to this report.
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
February 8, 2013 -- Updated 0718 GMT (1518 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
Today's five most popular stories