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India Delays Moon Mission to Late September

Russia and India to Fly Lunar Mission
India's Chandrayaan-1 is an Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) mission designed to orbit the Moon over a two year period. Packed with an international suite of science instruments, the orbiter is headed for a late 2007-2008 launch. Image (Image credit: Dan Roam)

BANGALORE, India — The Indian SpaceResearch Organisation (ISRO) again has delayed the launch the nation's firstlunar orbiter, this time to late September, due in part to late arrivingpayloads, according to ISRO spokesman S. Satish.

Itwas the second postponement this year for the Chandrayaan-1 mission, whichoriginally was scheduled to lift off April 9. That date was pushed to earlyJuly in anticipation of extra time needed for integrating the experimentalpayloads with the spacecraft.

Satishsaid the decision to postpone until this fall was taken May 27 at one of theregular technical meetings reviewing the progress of the project. He citeddelays in some of the orbiter's international payloads but declined to identifywhich ones. In addition, he said, there were "unforeseen" problems ininterfacing the payloads with the spacecraft, but added that all the problemsnow have been overcome and "everything is under control." He saidthat as of now "all payloads have been integrated and testing is goingon" at the ISROSatellite Centre in Bangalore.

Satishsaid the end-of-September launch date also would give ISRO sufficient time togain complete confidence in the performance of the deep space network antennabuilt specifically for tracking Chandrayaan-1. The 32-meter parabolic dishantenna at Byalalu, 40 kilometers from Bangalore, currently is being tested bytracking Japan's lunar probe Kaguya, which was launched last September.

Satishsaid the tracking of Kaguya is being done following formal permission from theJapanese Aerospace Exploration Agency.

The525-kilogram Chandrayaan-1 will be launched by a modified version of ISRO'sPolar Satellite Launch Vehicle from the Sriharikota launch pad on India's east coast. Five of the probe's 11 experimental payloads were built by Indianscientists. The international payloads include: an X-ray Spectrometer, AtomReflecting Analyzer, and an infrared camera, all supplied in cooperation withthe European Space Agency; a Miniature Synthetic Aperture Radar and MoonMineralogical Mapper, bothfrom the United States; and a Radiation Dose Monitor from Bulgaria.

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Dr. Killugudi S. Jayaraman holds a PhD in nuclear physics from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. According to the Biotech Times, Dr. Jayaraman played a critical role in Indian science journalism, placing Indian science on a global platform. He was the first Science Editor of the Press Trust of India (PTI), editor of Nature India and Science Editor with IANS. His work can be found in many Indian and international publications.