It was expected that NASA, and by extension the U.S., would be the envy of the world after they successfully landed the Curiosity Mars Rover on the red planet last week. Nobody expected that envy to materialize into a real Mars mission from India.
According to the Hurriyet Daily News, India has announced a plan to send a rocket to Mars next year. The plan calls for a launch in November 2013 which would see the rocket reaching Mars at some point in 2014.
India's Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, said that the "spaceship to Mars will be a huge step for us in the area of science and technology." That spaceship will cost the nation an estimated $82 million. It's reportedly being developed by the Indian Space Research Organization.
It's great that more countries are having ambitions of sending rockets into space, but it feels a little too much like the space race of the 60s. After the U.S. sent men to the moon, the Soviet Union tried their hand at the feat. They were less than successful.
India's mission should be more successful as they're just sending a rocket to Mars. It's hard to say if the country's space program would have the resources available to them to build something like Curiosity at this point in time. If anybody could do it, it would be a country like India or China. Their economies and state funds would be enough to fund such a mission.
Maybe the space race to Mars will help encourage more international collaboration like the International Space Station. It would be awesome to see a multi-national funded mission to Mars. Even if such a thing never exists, we'll still get a reality TV show about the first manned mission to Mars.