India to launch Mars Orbiter Mission on October 28

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Originally published on October 2, 2013

The Indian Space Research Organisation has announced an October 28 launch date for it most ambitious project yet, the Mars Orbiter Mission.

Reuters reports that the unmanned craft will "orbit the red planet, blasting off from the southeastern coast in a mission expected to cost about $83 million, scientists who are part of the mission say."

The report continues:

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, [an ISRO] scientist ... said by phone from the city of Bangalore.

India's mission to Mars has drawn criticism in a country suffering from high levels of malnutrition and power shortages, and currently experiencing its worst slowdown in growth in 10 years. But India has long argued that technology developed in its space program has practical applications to everyday life.

India's space exploration program began in 1962. Five years ago, its Chandrayaan satellite found evidence of water on the moon. India is now looking at landing a wheeled rover on the moon in 2014.

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