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India To Launch Two Lunar Missions By 2015: Official

Illustration of Chandrayan-I's planned flight path to the Moon.
Madras, India (AFP) Jan 25, 2005
If India's first lunar mission scheduled for 2007 is successful, it will launch another one by 2015, the head of the country's space programme said Tuesday.

"ISRO will undertake more lunar missions if the first one turns out to be successful. In fact, we propose to launch two lunar missions before 2015," P. Madhavan Nair, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation said.

He said preparations were on track for the first mission called Chandrayan-I or Moon Vehicle I.

"We have completed all design activities and we our now in the process of building special instruments," Nair told reporters.

The 590-kilogram (1,298-pound) Chandrayan-1 is expected to map the lunar terrain for minerals and conduct scientific experiments, he added.

The scientist said the 2007 mission also aims at landing a small probe - an "impacter" module weighing about 20 kilograms (44 pounds) - on the surface of the moon.

The moon probe will detach itself from the spacecraft and land on the moon in order to examine it more closely, he said.

"On immediately touching the surface, the impacter will kick up some dust," Nair said.

"The master control room will pick the dust through mounted cameras and analyse it. The spacecraft will keep circling the moon and sending data to the ground stations," Nair said.

The official said a tracking network has been developed to monitor the spacecraft while it is in orbit.

A special ground station is also coming up near southern Bangalore city where ISRO is headquartered, he said.

Besides India, the United States, the European Space Agency, China and Japan are planning lunar missions during the next decade.

All rights reserved. � 2004 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.

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London, UK (SPX) Jan 20, 2005
Simulated moon dust has been used to make a key component of a working solar cell, giving an unexpected boost to President George W. Bush's project of setting up a colony on the moon, reports New Scientist.

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