ISRO to launch moon mission on April 9, 2008

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Bangalore, Sept 27: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch its maiden mission to the moon, Chandrayaan-I, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota on April 9, 2008.

"We are looking for a launch on April nine," Mylswamy Annadurai, Project Director of Chandrayaan-I, said, adding that a launch windows are available for the next two days in case the launch does not happen on that day.

ISRO is racing to meet the deadline and plans to integrate all the 11 instruments, including six from foreign partners, on board the mission before the year end. “Two instruments one from the US and another from Bulgaria were integrated last week," Annadurai said.

The two payloads which have been integrated are the moon mineralogy mapper, a joint project of Brown University and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Radiation Dose Monitor Experiment (Radom) from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

Two more payloads for the lunar orbiter -- the Miniature Synthetic Aperture Radar (mini-SAR), a joint project of Applied Physics Laboratory at the John Hopkins University and the Naval Air Warfare Centre, and SIR-2 from Germany's Max Planck Institute.

The German payload will be first calibrated at ISRO's Space Application Centre at Ahmedabad before it is integrated with the main orbiter in next 15 days. The mini-SAR will be used to map the lunar polar ice and the data generated from it will help in estimating water content in the moon's polar region.

Annaudurai, said that there were very little chances of any change in the launch date. In event of a delay due to problems detected during the countdown, the launch may take place in the next two to three days.

In case of more serious problems efforts will be to identify the slots every 14 days and the next probable launch could be on 23rd April 2008, Annadurai said. "We want to make the Chandrayaan operational by July so that we get two full years for all the planned experiments," he said.

On Chandrayaan-II, Annadurai said that ISRO would like to accommodate newer international partners in project.

"We had selected the partners for Chandrayaan-I purely on merit of the space science expertise offered by them and that will be our criteria once again," Annadurai said.



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