NEW DELHI India will launch its first space mission to Mars this year, President PranabMukherjee said on Thursday.
"Several space missions are planned for 2013, including India's first mission to Mars and the launch of our first navigational satellite," Mukherjee said in his maiden address to the joint sitting of Parliament at the start of the Budget session.
The Indian Space Research Organisation will also put in orbit the first of its seven satellites of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS). The system is India's version of the Global Positioning System.
The Mars Orbiter mission, scheduled for launch in October, will look for signature of life and reasons for loss of atmosphere on the red planet.
Under the mission, India will put in orbit a spacecraft using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. The satellite will undertake a 300-day journey to Mars and is expected to be put into the Martian orbit in September next year.
Mukherjee said the space programme epitomised India's scientific achievements and benefits the country in a number of areas.
"The launch of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle on September 9, 2012 marked our 100th space mission. India's first remote sensing satellite RISAT-1, with all-weather imaging capability, was also launched in 2012," he said.
'Govt taking steps to revive economy'
Expressing concern over declining growth, President Pranab Mukherjee said government is taking steps to revive investment activity and boost economy.
"Both global and domestic factors have affected our growth. We need to address the impact of both. My government has responded to the situation by taking several measures to revive investment activity and investor sentiment," he said in his address to the joint sitting of Parliament at the beginning of the Budget Session.
The economic growth during the 2012-13 is expected to fall to a decade low level of 5 per cent. It was 6.2 per cent in the previous fiscal.
"The past year has been a very difficult one for the global economy ...It has been a difficult year for India also.
"The Indian economy is currently experiencing slower growth. The real GDP grew by 5.4 per cent in the first half of the current fiscal year. This is significantly lower than the average of around 8 per cent in the last decade," Mukherjee said, adding the government is taking steps to deal with factors responsible for the slowdown.
On concerns over fiscal prudence, Mukherjee said, the government has announced a roadmap for fiscal consolidation and would contain the fiscal deficit to 5.3 per cent of the GDP in the current financial year.
Referring to the issue of price rise, he said "inflation is easing gradually, it is still a problem ... There has been a moderation in core inflation and recovery in growth is likely".
The inflation based on Wholesale Price Index (WPI) plummeted to a three year low of 6.62 per cent in January. The retail inflation, however continued to remain in double digit.
The government, he added, is also working with states to reach a consensus on Goods and Services Tax (GST), which will streamline indirect taxation system.