NASA and ISRO also have agreed to explore further cooperation in such fields as planetary science and heliophysics, as well as potential future missions to the Moon and Mars.
If ISRO fails to launch the Mars mission this year, the next launch opportunities occur in January-April 2016 and April-May 2018. The mission is estimated to cost 4.5 billion rupees ($83 million).
The Indian space agency has scheduled a series of launches during the current financial year, ending March 31, 2014. Among the dozen missions, ISRO plans to loft INSAT 3D, an advanced meteorological satellite, using an Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou, French Guiana, on July 25. This will be followed by the GSAT-14 communication satellite, using ISRO’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), on Aug. 6 from Sriharikota, and GSAT-7 from French Guiana between Aug. 22 and 24.
Another PSLV will carry the foreign commercial satellite SPOT-7 in December.
The GSLV Mk. 3 experimental mission is likely to be launched in January. This will make ISRO self-reliant in launching heavier communication satellites of INSAT-4 class, which weigh 4,500-5,000 kg.
The launch of India’s second navigation satellite, IRNSS-1D, is planned in March 2014. Before then, the agency will monitor the functioning of the IRNSS-1A launched on July 1.