India: We'll Launch a Mars Mission Next Year $82M plan will send spacecraft to orbit planet By Matt Cantor, Newser User Posted Aug 15, 2012 2:33 PM CDT 35 comments Comments This 2003 image made available by NASA shows Mars photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope on the planet's closest approach to Earth in 60,000 years. (AP Photo/NASA) (Newser) – Look out, Curiosity: India is right behind you. The country is planning to send an unmanned spacecraft to orbit Mars next year, its prime minister announced today. "This spaceship to Mars will be a huge step for us in the area of science and technology," Manmohan Singh said in a speech to celebrate India's 65th year of independence. But his political opponents say India should be focused on humanitarian needs like clean water and electricity rather than the $82 million mission, the AP reports. India's Space Research Organization says the mission needs to happen during a "window of opportunity," such as late next year, when Mars is closest to earth; the next such opening won't be til 2016.