India ends first moon mission

Written by Reuters | Bangalore | Updated: Aug 31 2009, 06:20am hrs
India terminated its first mission to the moon on Sunday, 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 Organisation (Isro). 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 being investigated.

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