New Delhi: After the moon mission, ISRO`s plans for Mars exploration got a shot in the arm with the government allocating the ambitious programme Rs 125 crore in the Union Budget announced today.
The budget documents state that the space agency plans to launch a Mars Orbiter as early as November next year with a 25 kg scientific payload.
ISRO got a Rs 2283 crore hike in allocation in the Union Budget, presented by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, over the 2011-12 revised estimates of Rs 4432 crore.
The Mars mission, which comprises putting a spacecraft in the Red Planet`s orbit to study its atmosphere, could be launched in November 2013 by ISRO`s warhorse rocket -- the
Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle.
The space agency had identified three launch windows -- one each in 2013, 2016 and 2018.
Top ISRO officials were earlier targeting launch opportunities in 2016 and 2018, but the budget papers show that the plans have been advanced.
"We are yet to finalise the scientific experiments for the Mars Mission," a ISRO official said.
Besides the Mars Orbiter Mission, ISRO`s Human Spaceflight programme has got Rs 60.46 crore in the budget.
The agency`s ambitious plan to put in place a regional navigation satellite system for the Indian subcontinent, on the lines of the US-operated Global Positioning System, has been allocated Rs 170 crore in the budget.
The Chandrayaan-II mission, planned for launch in 2014-15, has been allocated Rs 82.50 crore. This amount also includes some allocation for Chandrayaan-I mission.
However, in the Plan component of the Budget Estimates, the Department of Space has been reduced by Rs 85 crore over the BE for 2011-12 which were pegged at Rs 5,700 crore.
The Budget also allocates Rs 258.96 crore to ISRO`s project to develop a cost-effective rocket to put heavier satellites into geo-synchronous transfer orbit.
"The project envisages the development of a number of technologies which include, among others, 200 tonne solid stage booster, 25 tonne cryogenic engines and 110 tonne liquid stage engines and core booster," the budget document said.
The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) got 15.28 per cent hike in its budgetary allocation for the Plan component at Rs 4,601.73 crore for the next financial year.
For the DAE, the budget estimate for 2012-13, including the non-plan component, is Rs 7,650.73 crore.
The revised estimates for 2011-12 were Rs 6,724 crore.
The government has allocated Rs 656 crore for oceanographic research and Rs 400 crore for research and development in science and technology.
Overall, the Department of Science and Technology has been allocated Rs 2,477 crore compared to Rs 2,349 crore, which was the Plan component of the Budget Estimates for
The budget of Ministry of Earth Sciences has seen a minor hike from Rs 1,220 crore to Rs 1,281 crore, which was the Plan component of the Budget Estimates for 2011-12.
The overall allocation for the science and technology sector appears far from satisfactory when compared with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s assertions at the 99th Indian
Science Congress for a major increase in investment in research and development.