Launch of Japan Moon Probe Postponed

Japan's space agency said the mid-August launch of its lunar orbiter will be postponed due to a technical glitch, delivering another setback to the much-delayed probe.

Launch of Japan Moon Probe Postponed
The Selenological and Engineering Explorer—or SELENE—probe was to have been launched aboard one of the space program's mainstay H-2A rockets on August 17, JAXA, as the agency is called, said in a statement .

However, during an inspection it was discovered that some components were improperly installed on the two smaller satellites that accompany the main orbiter, JAXA said.

The components will be replaced and a new launch date announced once it has been determined, it said.

The $264 million SELENE is already four years behind schedule. Japan launched a moon probe in 1990, but that was a flyby mission, unlike SELENE, which is intended to orbit the moon.

It canceled another moon shot, LUNAR-A, that was to have been launched in 2004 but had been repeatedly postponed due to mechanical and fiscal problems.

JAXA says the SELENE project is the largest lunar mission since the U.S. Apollo program.

It involves placing the main satellite in orbit at an altitude of about 60 miles and deploying the two smaller satellites in polar orbits. Researchers will use data gathered by the probes to study the moon's origin and evolution.

The main orbiter will remain in position for about a year.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 21 Temmuz 2007, 09:47