The Curiosity rover has barely settled into its new home, but may be getting some company soon as India now says it wants to get into the Mars exploration business. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced today that the country is planning to send an unmanned probe into orbit around the red planet with a launch scheduled for next year. The country sent a similar spacecraft to the moon in 2008 and Singh also suggested it might send its own lunar rover back there as well.
Some might question whether a 4.5 billon rupee (around $82 million) space launch makes sense for a country that can barely keep its own lights on, though Singh also addressed the power issue in Wednesday's speech. He announced a target to have electricty in every Indian household with in five years and to beef up the nation's electric grid, which failed spectuarly just two weeks ago, knocking out power to more than 600 million people. But as Americans are well aware, politicians love making bold plans (especially in outer space) and talking about the future rarely hurts anyone. Today is the 65th anniversary of India's independence from Britain, which explains the "dream big" theme of Singh's speech.