India Aims for Mars Mission in 2013, Ahead of Dennis Tito’s January 2018 501-Day Red Planet Trip

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By Vittorio Hernandez | February 22, 2013 1:56 PM EST

It seems that more and more earthings are getting tired of the planet and want to venture into outer space, which used to be the domain of NASA scientists, American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts.

Now, the list is getting longer to include Indians, tourists, miners and even a porn star who goes by the name of Coco Brown.

Reuters reported on Thursday that India is set to launch its first Mars mission in 2013. Indian President Pranab Mukherjee announced the Asian country's cosmic ambitions in a bid to catch up with other space giants such as the U.S., Russia and China.

In preparation for the Mars sojourn, India will send a satellite in October through an unmanned spacecraft to orbit the red plant. The programme costs the Asian nation $83 million.

The made-in-India spacecraft will take nine months to reach Mars and then will launch itself in an elliptical orbit about 500 kilometres from the red planet.

Despite the widespread poverty in India, a nation with more than 1 billion residents, India started its space exploration programme way back in 1962. Five years ago, India's Chandrayaan satellite discovered evidence of water on the moon, and by 2014, India plans to land a wheeled rover on the moon.

The ambitious Mars project, however, has been met criticisms, but the government insisted its space programme has practical applications to daily Indian life.

If India's plans would push through, it would be ahead of another lofty plan announced on Thursday by the Inspiration Mars Foundation, which aims to make a historic trip to Mars and back in 501 days.

The foundation was formed by millionaire Dennis Tito, the first space tourist, who paid $20 million to reach space via a Russian rocket in 2011. His planned Mars journey is still in 2018.

However, the 72-year-old millionaire will give a talk on Feb 28 about the celestial journey at the IEEE Aerospace Conference where the foundation will present its Mars mission in detail.

The Mars trip would use a modified version of SpaceX's Dragon capsule.

But the trip to Mars won't be as regular as daily train runs since timing is critical, dependent on the orbits of the Earth and Mars. After the 2018 mission, the next Mars trip would only be available on 2031 based on the orbits of the two planets.

The popularity of space journeys could be gauged by this YouTube video which has logged more than 15 million hits.

The space ventures, which includes plans by miners to search for rare minerals in outer space, would certainly present many clever but naughty and humorous scenarios for cartoonists and meme makers to play with.

The scenarios would include Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart scouring Venus for coal and iron ore and sari-garbed Indian astronauts popping spicy capsules for their meals. But definitely, Coco Brown would not be making porn films while in outer space since that area has different laws of gravity that the triple X-rated film actress is typically used to.

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