February 14, 2008

Indian Moon Mission Delayed

BANGALORE, India — The
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has postponed the launch of the
nation's first planetary mission, the Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter, which had
been scheduled for April 9, for at least two weeks.

The delay was ordered to
give engineers more time to integrate the scientific instruments aboard the
spacecraft, ISRO spokesman S. Satish said Feb. 13. He did not elaborate but
said there were no hardware problems with the probe.

The 525-kilogram lunar
orbiter is to be launched by a modified Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle from the
Sriharikota launch pad on India's east coast. It will carry 11 scientific
payloads, including six provided by other nations: two from the United States,
and one each from Britain, Sweden, Germany and Bulgaria.

Satish said the launch could
take place after a delay of only two weeks, but added that if more time is
needed the next opportunity will be "after two or three months."

He said the new launch date
will be decided at a meeting of ISRO officials during the week of Feb. 18.