India 2013 Mars Mission: Nation Plans To Send Orbiter To Study Red Planet [Video]

India’s 2013 Mars mission is taking shape as the country nears its plans to send an unmanned orbiter to study the geology and climate of the Red Planet.

The country’s Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, gave his approval to the India 2013 Mars mission and the final approvals are expected to come within a few days.

“We will embark on the Mars mission after the Department of Science gives the green signal and decides the schedule early next year,” Deviprasad Karnik, director of the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation, told the French news agency AFP.

The cost of the India 2013 Mars mission is expected to reach up to $90 million, the Christian Science Monitor reported. The Indian government has already set aside close to $22 million in the federal budget, the report said.

India’s space program made a major leap forward in 2008, when it successfully put its first unmanned lunar probe in orbit. The spacecraft, Chandrayaan-1, was able to detect water on the moon. A second mission, which would be known as Chandrayaan-2, is planned and would include an orbiter and a lunar rover, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

News of the India 2013 Mars mission coincides with another Mars development from the United States. A rover launched by NASA, named Curiosity, is set to touch down on the Red Planet on Au. 5. The $2.5 billion rover is the largest manmade object to ever visit another planet, and is designed to study the habitability of Mars.

The India 2013 Mars mission could come with some high risks, Wired reported. The success rate for missions to Mars is only about 30 percent, and only the United States and former Soviet Union have attempted these missions.