India Blasts Off to Mars

Suit up, Mars, India’s coming to town. President Pranab Mukherjee announced Thursday that his Asian nation will be launching its first mission to Mars this year. Set for blastoff in October, the unmanned spacecraft—complete with a navigational satellite—will likely take at least nine months to make it to the Red Planet. While the news is a welcome boost for Indians yeaning for a more prominent place on the world stage, it is also the subject of much scrutiny. In a nation plagued by malnutrition and other maladies, an $83 million operation is an extravagant play. The government of India has allocated $1.2 billion to the program in this fiscal year alone.