"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.

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 colonization of Mars.


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