Saturday, August 29, 2009

India loses contact with its spacecraft

Reuters August 29, 2009 11:34pm

INDIA has lost all contact with an unmanned spacecraft conducting its first moon mission, the national space agency said.
Communications with the Chandrayaan-1 craft broke down early today.

"It is a serious problem. If we do not re-establish contact we will lose the spacecraft," said S. Satish, spokesman for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

The $79-million mission was launched amid national euphoria last October, putting India in the Asian space race alongside rival China, reinforcing its claim to be considered a global power.

A probe vehicle landed on the moon a month later and sent back images of the lunar surface.

But a critical sensor in the main craft, orbiting the moon, malfunctioned in July, raising fears that the two-year mission may have to be curtailed.

One of the mission's main aims was to look for Helium 3, an isotope which is very rare on earth but could be an energy source in the future in nuclear fusion.

ISRO has plans to send a manned mission to space in four years' time and eventually on to Mars.

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