NEW DELHI, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Indian President Pranab Mukherjee Thursday announced that the country would launch its maiden space mission to Mars as well as its first navigational satellite this year.
"Our space programme epitomizes India's scientific achievements and benefits the country in a number of areas. Several space missions are planned for 2013, including India's first mission to Mars and launch of our first navigational satellite," the President told the Parliament on the first day of its Budget Session.
The Mars mission by the Indian Space Research Organization, aimed at exploring the red planet's atmosphere and search for life- sustaining elements, will make India join the elite club of five top nations comprising the U.S., Russia, Europe, China and Japan.
India had launched its first unmanned mission to Moon in 2008.