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India to Get in On the Mars Exploration Initiative

While they don’t have a history of space exploration like the U.S., Russia, and China, the emerging nation of India is now looking forward to joining the space race with their first satellite mission to Mars later this year.

“Several space missions are planned for 2013, including India’s first mission to Mars and the launch of our first navigational satellite,” India’s President Pranab Mukherjee told parliament.

India will send a satellite in October via an unmanned spacecraft to orbit Mars, blasting off from the southeastern coast in a mission expected to cost about $83 million, scientists who are part of the mission say. Only $83 million? Have we sent up a satellite that costs less than half a billion dollars? While that is surely a lot of money, that seems like a bargain for such a mission. Plenty left over to get their hands clean with salt soap afterwards.

The spacecraft, which will be made in India, will take nine months to reach Mars and then launch itself in an elliptical orbit about 500 km (310 miles) from the planet.

“The mission is ready to roll,” Deviprasad Karnik, a scientist from the India Space Research Organization (ISRO), said by phone from the city of Bangalore.

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