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Emily LakdawallaFebruary 26, 2008

Chandrayaan-1 launch delayed to July

From the Press Trust of India comes the news that India is delaying the launch of its first lunar orbiter, Chandrayaan-1, from April to the first week in July. It sounds like they are experiencing delays in the tricky process of integrating the spacecraft's 11 instruments, of which six were built overseas, onto the spacecraft. Fortunately, lunar missions can generally be delayed by a few weeks to months and not miss any major opportunities; the Moon is always there, so they don't face the problem Mars missions have of launch periods only opening every 26 months. On the other hand, the hardware doesn't get any newer sitting around in the assembly facility, nor does the mission get any cheaper, so it's best to get a spacecraft off the ground as quickly as possible.

Posting this reminds me that I've not heard much from either the Chinese or Japanese missions, Chang'E 1 or Kaguya, lately. A quick check of the Kaguya images website shows a few new HD images from the Moon and the first results from LALT, the laser altimeter. Looks like they're making progress! My favorite new image is this one showing swirling albedo patterns in some craters near the edge of the south pole Aitken basin.

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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