India has become the latest nation to unveil its ambition for a Mars mission. The country will place a small spacecraft in orbit around Mars in 2013, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced on 15 August.

This is the latest in a series of highly ambitious announcements by the Indian government, which is ramping up its investment in all aspects of spaceflight.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully sent a probe, Chandrayaan-1, to orbit Earth's moon and send back data. A follow-on, to include a sample return mission, has been repeatedly delayed, with a launch now planned for 2016.

ISRO plans three launches before the end of 2012, including that of SARAL, an ocean altimetry satellite jointly built by India and France. The nation is also building a new launch vehicle - the geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle (GSLV III) - capable of orbiting much greater loads than the current GSLV models.

Source: Flight International