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India Mulls First Manned Space Mission

by Staff Writers
New Delhi (AFP) Nov 5, 2006
Indian scientists will meet this week to discuss sending the country's first manned mission to space and possibly to the moon, a report said Sunday. Nearly 60 scientists will attend the meeting Tuesday organized by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), the Indian Express daily reported.

S. Krishnamurthy, the space agency's spokesman, told the paper India wanted to avoid being left behind in the global space race.

"Whether the mission will involve orbiting of the moon will be decided only if we get a favorable opinion for a manned space mission," said Krishnamurthy.

"There is now a feeling that 20 years down the line, other countries would have explored the moon for minerals and India must not be left behind."

The agency will present a plan for a manned space mission to the scientists and ask for their feedback, including whether the enterprise should be to the moon and exclusively Indian, the report said.

Krishnamurthy said Tuesday's meeting would decide whether to go ahead with the mission, with the "how and when" decided later.

India says its three-decades-old space program is aimed at developing practical technology. It plans to send an unmanned probe to the moon in two or three years time.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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