It looks like Curiosity might be getting some company on the Red Planet-
The Indian government has approved a mission to Mars in what would be the country's first visit to the red planet. The news comes just four years after India launched its maiden mission to the Moon – Chandrayaan-1 – and days after NASA landed the Curiosity car-sized rover on Mars.
The £70m mission will be launched in November 2013 from India's spaceport at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on the island of Sriharikota using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. The mission, which will orbit Mars and study the planet's geology and climate, has already been allocated £26m in the country's science budget.
"I think they look at this in a similar way [to how] the US looked at Apollo – in that they are trying to demonstrate that they are a technologically advanced country and a leader in Asia," adds [John Hopkins' scientist David] Plescia. "Space programmes are not really about science, they are about national prestige and national security. The mission would also be a source of pride and excitement to the country, much like the Curiosity mission is in the US."
With China going forward with an aggresive space program, playing 40 years of catchup with the US and Russia, India doesn't want to be left behind. It's got a heck of a tech presence and can use this as a tool to show that India can do big-power things and possibly create a space industry of their own.