India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) blasts off from the Sriharikota spaceport near Chennai, India. — AP Photo
India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) blasts off from the Sriharikota spaceport near Chennai, India. — AP Photo

NEW DELHI: India plans to launch a space probe that will orbit Mars, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh confirmed on Wednesday after press reports that the mission was scheduled to begin late next year.

The project would mark another step in the country's ambitious space programme, which placed a probe on the moon three years ago and envisages its first manned mission in 2016.

“Our spaceship will go near Mars and collect important scientific information,” Singh said in his annual Independence Day address, heralding the plan as “a huge step for us in the area of science and technology”.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is expected to launch the unmanned orbiter as early as November next year, the Press Trust of India news agency reported earlier this month.

According to one ISRO official, the cost of the mission has been estimated at four to five billion rupees ($70-90 million).

India has a well-established space programme which is a source of strong national pride, but it has also attracted criticism as the government struggles to tackle dire poverty and child malnutrition.

Power blackouts on two consecutive days this month knocked out electricity across vast swathes of the country and underlined weaknesses in India's basic infrastructure.

“More attention needs to be paid to the poor on issues such as health, drinking water and literacy,” Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of the Sulabh sanitation charity and one of India's most noted welfare activists, told AFP.

“Going to space might have some scientific benefits but it alone will not help the condition of India's poor.”

In September 2009, India's Chandrayaan-1 lunar probe discovered water on the moon, boosting the country's credibility among more experienced space-faring nations.

But the space programme suffered a setback in December 2010 when a satellite launch vehicle blew up and fell into the Bay of Bengal after veering from its intended flight path. The United States, Russia, Europe, Japan and China have all sent missions to Mars.

The US robot Curiosity is currently on the surface of the “Red Planet” after landing last week to hunt for soil-based signs of life and send back data for a future human mission.

Curiosity is a nuclear-powered vehicle that is designed for a two-year mission, though scientists hope it will last at least twice that long.

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Comments (62)

mr.great indian.
August 15, 2012 2:51 pm
space research not just a matter of pride. technology deveoped for space vehicle proved for vital civilian use like one our honourable ex-president unvieled the light weight non corrosive legs for physically handicapped people. the material developed for heat resistant ,light and non corrosive can be used for commercial business like automobile and fishing vessel.this can be developed only when you have a challenging space programmes. also vast amount of helium (a fuel ) can be tapped from moon. thats why us,china,japan,europe ,russia and india repeatedly sending probes and missions.plz improve the knowledge abt the space missions my friend.
August 15, 2012 10:00 am
Its really beyond my thinking Mars Mission - Power shortage - Poor Transport are similar things ? If no then why two extras lines for these . Yeah Transport is a problem in India . But in next five years more then ten cities will be using Metros like Delhi , Kolkata , Mumbai , B'lore already using . But it not means that India should ignore other things Like Space Missions . Its a breakthrough for ISRO now India will be in Elite zone in Space Mission . It will be beneficial for all .
August 15, 2012 10:00 am
because this is the reality
Sagar Kale
August 15, 2012 2:58 pm
Facts aside, but the comment was very funny :)
August 16, 2012 3:33 pm
Thank you for projecting a positive perspective in India's space program.Good luck to Pakistan in coming out of very troubled times. I used to have a Muslim gentleman,a retired Police officer, teach me art of batting in India a long time ago- his surname was Baig! I think is his first name was Habibullah but it was long time ago and I don't remember exactly.
August 15, 2012 3:12 pm
Space missions have one positive aspect, which override all concerns of the expenditure involved. The cosmic discoveries broaden our vision. They constantly remind us, how much senseless and insignificant are the barriers we create between ourselves on earth. We fight each other over petty differences like religion due to our misplaced belief of self-importance.
Y Jalil
August 15, 2012 10:08 am
Lunar and Martian exploration comes with a hefty price and given that volumes of data are available already in the upper atmospheric sciences, countries like India should direct these resources to social uplift.
August 15, 2012 2:34 pm
I do research in AI and Robotics and often find people questioning rationale behind spending money on high tech research. Most of these people are not aware of the simple fact that almost all of the technology that we use today were once developed by high-tech labs and space missions are known for that. You may want to listen to what NASA scientist s have to say on NASA funding. Not long ago a colleague of mine debated very passionately that in India we should try to bring food to everyone instead of building bridges or metro trains. Perhaps you can see the fallacy here - something leads to something else.
August 16, 2012 9:37 am
Pakistan govt need to be more transparent and democratic, They dont need to be controlled by extremist. Once we do this then pakistan would shine in the region.
Tamil Arasan
August 15, 2012 12:11 pm
very well said prat2905...
August 15, 2012 12:03 pm
Success is only another form of failure if we forget what our priorities should be.
August 15, 2012 12:00 pm
Rolling on the floor laughing!, how true, the vanity of the politicians.
August 15, 2012 11:17 am
Very impressive sister India! India can afford $100M for a space probe to Mars but would not create environment that should leave country with no homeless and without poverty and illetracy. the question is to all human race, can someone justify need for race to the Moon, Mars and in-between-&-beyond? Man cannot fight even droughts right here on earth. So what benefits are being missed if we donot have knowledge about the Moon, Mars, Jupiter and so on so forth? Get a life brainos. We cannot solve human problems but want to march ahead to know about other planets. I look for comments from the so-called space research enthusiasts.
August 15, 2012 11:13 am
first get rid of poverty
A Shah
August 15, 2012 11:07 am
India needs to keep investing in all fronts. Defence, Infrastucture, food, education, health etc and yes Space Program too. I wish we in Pakistan could even dream of these things. Our politicials are too busy looting this country.
August 15, 2012 10:41 am
Yeah they already have resolved .. They used to go in fields . :) ...Dud its not the place to resolve these issue .. Because whole govt is trying to resolve but still its on progress .
Satish Kumar
August 16, 2012 3:15 pm
Dear My Pakistani Friends Namaskar I only read comments, I not ready what authors write above. as per all comments now I feel I m living in a poor country where no transport, not road, no electricity, even every body going to die without food. but this is not truth, your govt. your media keep you in dark. Dont take any otherwise. I respect all Thanks
August 16, 2012 12:41 pm
I love this saying. It is so apt for Pakistan and its nuclear weapons program.
Chaturvedi D, India
August 16, 2012 11:21 am
Dear Govt., Go wherever yuu want and can. But never to miseries and hardship of poor and common man. Its good luck that at least you offer lip services.
Ahmed R Canada
August 16, 2012 10:48 am
The question is achieving something here, not comparing one thing with other, India has in past successfully launched many satellites independently, Moon Mission was a success, good step by India as it keeps itself a goal ahead, you achieve only when you have goal.
August 17, 2012 10:29 am
The world spends 3.3 billion dollars on military expenditures every day. Most of this can be used to achieve universal clean water, literacy and poverty reduction for the world's poor children. Space research expenditure is always an extension of military spending whether declared or undeclared. It is time to give governments of the world a haller to spend more resources on uplifting the poor.
August 15, 2012 10:26 am
Ghar may nahi daanay, Amma chali bhunanay. ( there are is no corn at home yet the old lady has gone to roast them ) Governments should set their priorities right and help the poor citizens first!
August 15, 2012 10:25 am
Because its not required here sir !
benny varghese
August 15, 2012 10:16 am
Nobody is adding anything here its a AFP news ( Associated Foregin Press) and you will see the same text all over the world news papers
August 15, 2012 10:15 am
Article is by AFP - Agence France Presse - and not by DAWN. Stop being so paranoid!
August 15, 2012 10:07 am
People in rural areas do not have bathrooms. can we resolve that first?
World Peace
August 15, 2012 1:21 pm
Your are absolutely correct.First solve the problems of poor friends who live with you.Share your bread with them Help other. This is an attitude of some selfish people.
August 15, 2012 1:16 pm
Actually, it is really a false choice. India has the money to invest $10M in space program and another v$100M in poverty reduction (India actually already spends more than that). The problem is the totally corrupted public administration system, that renders all poverty reduction effort useless. On the other hand, Space program is run by an independent agency, public of course, but not the IAS. This means they take on specific projects and actually get it done. Thats why you see this dicothomy. In fact, if India were to cancell the space program and divert the money to poverty reduction programs, we would have the worst o both world - poverty would still remain, and we would have no rockets!
August 15, 2012 9:45 am
India’s planned Mars mission comes as the government has been under pressure over issues such as massive power shortages and the nation’s poor transport infrastructure. Blackouts on two consecutive days this month knocked out power in vast swathes of the country. why did u add this to this story?
August 15, 2012 9:56 am
And why not ?
amin dada
August 15, 2012 3:44 pm
they do not need bathrooms they have the whole countryside to themselves unlike us we have 4 walls and a roof in the city and we call it comfort ??!!!
August 15, 2012 3:52 pm
It's good to see India is progressing in space program but it would be nice if they spend more money to cater poverty. I am sure both efforts can be done in parallel
August 15, 2012 4:06 pm
this was the first huge blackout since 2000 because of equipment failure. Power blackouts are common in US too and areas more vaster than this.. It does not mean anything. Power got resptred after replacing the equipment in just few days..
does not matter
August 16, 2012 3:04 pm
If India was just busy removing poverty instead of running critical space program along , then it would not have been self sufficient in sending all those satellites for itself and now for other countries too. This is another way for India to earn foreign exchange which in turn can be used to remove poverty. Also these kind of space program have made India a global power in missile technology as well in absence of which it would have had to depend upon Russia or US. Of course India needs to keep focus of getting people out of poverty as well.
August 15, 2012 4:36 pm
The problem of poverty in India is not money. Even if India starts spending billions more it is not guaranteed to produce favorable results. The problem is in the implementation of programs that are not delivering expected results. The cost of Mars mission is 60-90 millions US dollars. Anyone who has an idea of how much India spends on poverty eradication programs knows that it spends not in millions but in billions each year. If India can spend 6 billions US dollars in Afghanistan reconstruction efforts in can also afford to spend money on its own people.
August 16, 2012 10:51 am
Anyone who has been in India and seen the infrastructure and poverty knows that this space program won't make it to Mars before 2116. But, its good political statement for congress.
August 15, 2012 6:46 pm
If India did not invest in Science and Technology, Scientists and Engineers will have limited opportunities at home. This Brain Drain affects India and lack of job opportunities will also mean that people are not pulled out of poverty. I would rather see these type of opportunities created rather than just freebies and subsidies being doled out in the name of alleviating poverty. To resolve poverty in parallel, simply save cost by reducing the security detail of politicians and checking their Swiss accounts.
August 15, 2012 7:32 pm
Pakistan has never had a space mission fail.
ghazanfar ali
August 16, 2012 11:01 am
when there is will there is a way
An Indian
August 16, 2012 11:22 am
excellent comment Mr.great.Indian...
August 15, 2012 11:33 pm
Yep and they wont send an unmanned airship, that air ship will have Rajni Kant fully loaded...
August 16, 2012 1:10 am
Just like when Pakistan said we will eat grass but develop nukes. India can say they will go to Mars despite poverty.
August 16, 2012 3:32 am
a laudable effort.
August 16, 2012 3:51 am
70-90 million dollars more for poverty alleviation spent by the government is not going to do any good. This is because first, this amount pales in comparison to the money already being spent and second, we need trillions to get rid of poverty. On the other hand, there are huge benefits of these space programs as well. These create immense technological and scientific know-how in the country. Most of the missions are done in cooperation with Indian hi-tech companies like L&T etc. So once the money has been invested in research, L&T and other such India companies are competing with huge foreign companies in the hi-tech economy. This cannot be anything but excellent for India. More revenues, jobs and further propagation of know-how. Its a win win scenario.
Mirza Asad Baig
August 16, 2012 12:25 pm
I am a Pakistani and I wish Pakistan also set and implemented such ambitious targets. Good luck to India! They have done it in the past and I am sure they would succeed in the future. Yes, there is poverty in India but believe you me the only way out of poverty is self-reliance and technological development. I am sure, just like the US, India has structured plans to channelize the advancements made in space technology into commercial and industrial areas to spread the benefit to the public at large. Pakistan has it's own set of challenges - internal security being the top. Just this morning, Minhas airbase was attacked by foreign militants. Also the same morning, the ugly sectarian monster showed it's teeth again, 20 innocent people were killed at point blank range. I am certain Pakistan will come out of these difficult times. In the end - good luck to India - it's an inspiration for the Pakistani youth.
August 16, 2012 5:23 am
This article clearly reflects the auther's jealous over Indias success in space program. Do you think China has overcome traffic problem, poverty etc? I have read many reports about Indias success stories here and all the time the authers add some extra line about powerty, and other unrelated problems.
RS Parekh
August 16, 2012 6:00 am
Hi Avat! They are trying to remove poverty but what to do, it keeps on increasing! Also, this comes from every corner! Government is first trying poverty from ministry level, then beaurocrats, then middle men............ and last is aam janata! Someone said that remove poors and poverty will be eradicated.
August 16, 2012 6:23 am
Indian progress in all area...Same like other super power. Yes! poverty and infrastructure is problem for India. But india doing well in all front.....Go India...
Prabhat Pal
August 16, 2012 8:02 am
Does doing well in Science and Technology come with a prerequisite of being a rich nation? Is Science and Tech a sole property of nations with no poverty? Moreover, doesn't science ultimately help in solving problems related to diverse fields?
August 16, 2012 4:54 pm
Thank you for a positive spin/perspective to the story. Yes,poverty alleviation, and technology development must go hand in hand and they are not mutually exclusive.
August 16, 2012 6:54 pm
It is like saying I should not spend money in educating my children because I am poor and sometimes I cannot purchase milk for the family. I should purchase milk first
August 16, 2012 6:56 pm
Writer??? Sir/Ma'am, the articles been reported by the AFP! Dont go on now telling me ISI has deep undercover agents in the AFP now trying desperately to sideline India' s Space Program! P.S: I am a Pakistani. i wish India the very best of luck on their space exploration programmes. At least inspite of all that plagues it, the country is still well off on the road to progress. Wish Pakistan's SUPARCO wasn't this crappy! May the Generals of our great army have jolly more begged CSF credits on their knees, while the taliban do their thing. May our Politicians and their incompetent sons inherit the next gov. MAy they further loot our nation tlll there is nothing left. Only then when all is lost will these imbeciles realize you cant drink money and eat gold.
Syed Shah
August 16, 2012 7:33 pm
So that 2.5% Brahmins will jump with glee and boast about it. Bravo good job done.
August 16, 2012 7:38 pm
No water to Drink and investing in Mars, Shame, Shame, by a Citizen of India, BTM Layout, Bangalore
August 16, 2012 8:08 pm
One thing i cannot understand why people is always talking about India's poverty,do they mean that India's should idle and not do any thing because there is only one issue poverty.Remember one thing no country can reduce poverty without proper nation building i.e the country's advancement in all scientific,manufacturing ,infrastructure etc etc field.The logic is before you expect return on your investment you yourself 1st need to invest and India is exactly doing the same thing first investing money in space technology and then getting money by launching foreign satellites.These money in turn spend on health,education and reducing poverty.
August 17, 2012 12:20 am
Thanks Mirzabhai
August 17, 2012 2:58 am
Good to see a positive outlook of India from a pakistani. Yes. what you said is spot on.
August 17, 2012 3:02 am
Its a shame for many Indians if they see your post. There is no way India can improve without technological advancements.
August 17, 2012 3:05 am
People like you said the same even for the Moon mission (chandrayan). Later the whole world was praising India for the mission. No point in being a pessimist. If you say India is same since pre-independence era, then you have not changed, but the country has moved forward
August 17, 2012 4:01 am
Thanks for the support. But poverty cannot be dealt by spending money on poor people...instead by creating jobs. Learn a man to fish, he will learn how to fish instead of giving the fish to him. This is the hard yet the only way to eliminate poverty and people should come out of the habit of begging governments for free money.
August 17, 2012 4:04 am
How to get rid of poverty? By giving money to people? pls explain. Its easier said than done.
August 18, 2012 6:32 am
Its embarrasing post written by Deepak. Inspite of all our challenges we as a indian are united. all countries have one or other problems. Which country is 100% perfect. Shame on you writting such comment. Specially when you are in Bangalore. You cant just ignore the hard work and effort of indian waste by writting such foolish comment.
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