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August 31, 2009

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India's mission to moon is aborted

INDIA terminated its first mission to the moon yesterday, a spokesman for the national space agency said, a day after scientists lost all contact with an unmanned spacecraft orbiting the moon.

"Our efforts to establish contact have failed. The mission has been terminated," said S. Satish, spokesman of the Indian Space Research Organization.

"There was no point continuing with the mission."

Communications with the Chandrayaan-1 craft broke down early on Saturday.

The cause of the malfunction is still under investigation.

The US$79 million mission was launched amid national euphoria last October, putting India among peers in the space race.

A vehicle landed on the moon a month later and sent back images of the lunar surface. But a crucial sensor in the main craft, orbiting the moon, malfunctioned in July, raising fears that the two-year mission might end.

One of the mission's main tasks was to look for Helium 3, an isotope which is very rare on earth.


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