PM says India's maiden lunar mission to be launched this year

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New Delhi, Aug 15 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said India's maiden mission to the moon, Chandrayaan-I, would be launched this year.

''We hope to send an Indian spacecraft, Chandrayaan, this year,'' he said while addressing the nation on the occasion of the country's 62nd Independence Day.

''It will be an important milestone in the development of our space programme,'' he said, adding that ''I want to see a modern India, imbued by a scientific temper, where the benefits of modern knowledge flow to all sections of society.'' The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had already announced that India's ambitious Rs 3.8 billion unmanned lunar mission was likely to soar into the skies in October this year from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota.

It will be launched by indigenously developed Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).

ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair had said the satellite integration was almost complete.

The spacecraft, which is no bigger than a typical office cubicle, will orbit the moon for two years.

It is currently undergoing tests for its ability to handle the extreme thermal and vacuum environment experienced in a lunar orbit.

These assessments will be followed by vibration and acoustic tests.

India recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Russia for the Chandrayaan-II project, which will have an Orbiter that would go around the moon and a Lander or Rover which would collect samples from moon's surface after landing on it.

The target set for achieving the second moon mission is 2011-12.

UNI SH PK HS1130

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