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Moon mission in 3rd quarter of '08: ISRO

Indian space scientists are aiming to launch their ambitious Moon-mission Chandrayaan-I in the third quarter of this year. It will launch a 500 kg satellite that will orbit Earth's only natural satellite for two years for terrain mapping and lunar surface mapping.

"It is too early to attempt a human-landing mission on Moon. We will be sending a 500 kg satellite for terrain mapping and lunar surface mapping. The satellite will survey the lunar surface to produce a complete map of its chemical characteristics and 3-dimensional topography," ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair told a press conference at Sriharikota on Monday after India successfully placed a record 10 satellites into 'precise' orbit.

"All the instruments for Chandrayaan-I are ready. A few tests have to be conducted, following which we will be ready for the launch in the third quarter of this year. A special vehicle of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) called the PSLV-XL is being prepared for it. The weight of the strap-on thrust will increase from nine to 12 tonnes. All the six motors are ready," he said.

Nair also said India's first manned space flight can be expected in seven years, after three unmanned flights with the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mk-III configuration.

"We will be able to put two persons on a lower earth orbit," he said. "We have submitted our project proposal to the government and the Centre has already released Rs 95 crore for the project. We are awaiting the approval for the project in another six months."

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