The launch of the Chandrayaan I lunar orbiter by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) was originally planned for September 19 but scientists have yet to conduct the thermo-vacuum testing of a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) with the orbiter on board.
“We will announce the exact launch date 45-50 days after the completion of thermo-vacuum testing,” ISRO chairman G. Madhavan Nair said.
The Chandrayaan remote sensing satellite weighs about 1.3 tons and carries high resolution remote sensing equipment for visible, near infrared, soft and hard X-ray frequencies.
Over a two-year period, it is intended to survey the lunar surface to produce a complete map of its chemical characteristics and three-dimensional topography. The polar regions are of special interest, as they might contain water ice.
The satellite will release its Moon Impact Probe once it enters lunar orbit to give scientists a closer look at a specific region of the surface.
The ISRO plans to launch a second lunar mission – Chandrayaan-2 – in 2011. Russia’s space agency, Roskosmos, is teaming up with ISRO in the development of Chandrayaan-2’s lander and associated rover.
Chandrayaan-2 will comprise an orbiting spacecraft and a landing platform with the moon rover.
Nair also said India continued to work on designs for a manned flight to the Moon by 2020.