Bhubaneswar: Hectic preparations are on to launch Indian Space Research Organisation's ambitious Mars Orbiter Mission in November, said Prof U R Rao, Chairman of Governing Council of Physical Research Laboratory.
"The unmanned mission, which will explore the existence of life and the possibility of sustaining life on Mars, will travel 299 days in space before reaching the Red Planet in September 2014," Rao said.
The Mars Orbiter Mission will be sent through powerful PSLV-XL launch vehicle, he said.
ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan has said last month that the Rs 450 crore programme that has attracted some criticism "is not for pride because the exploration has its own scientific value."
Prof Rao, who led the country's space programme between 1984 and 1994 as Chairman of ISRO, was delivering a talk to the students and faculty of KIIT University here on "Existing Challenges in Space Programmes of Future".
The country's space programme has crossed notable milestones, he said adding that it was Chandrayaan-1 of India that first discovered water on Moon.
The country spends Rs 3148 crore on space programme a year and has a 16,500 strong human resource expertise, he said.
Rao outlined nine challenges for the space programme: food security, energy security, environmental security, resource security, space security, space transportation, search for life, exploring universe and colonisation of Mars.