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India probe crash-lands successfully on moon

  • Story Highlights
  • Unmanned Indian probe lands succesfully on the moon Friday
  • Probe hit the moon at a speed of 5760 kilometers per hour
  • Two-year mission seeks high-resolution, 3-D imaging of the moon's surface
  • Probe will also search for evidence of water or ice
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From Harmeet Shah Singh
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NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- A TV-size probe adorned with a painting of the Indian flag successfully rammed into the moon Friday evening as part of the country's first unmanned lunar mission, Indian space officials said.

For India the $80 million mission puts the country on the inside track of a fast-developing Asian space race.

The spacecraft carrying India's first lunar probe, Chandrayaan-1, lifts off from Sriharikota.

The Moon Impact Probe detached from the unmanned lunar orbiter Chandrayaan-1 and made a hard landing on the lunar surface around 8:31 p.m. New Delhi time (10:01 a.m. ET), said the official, Srinivasa Murthy Satish.

Space official Shiv Kumar said the 34-kilogram probe hit the moon surface traveling at 1.6 kilometers per second, which is a speed of 5,760 kilometers per hour (3,579 mph).

Kumar said the probe transmitted sufficient signals to the mother craft before landing, but no more were expected after the impact.

A news release from the Indian Space Research Organization said, "The probe had a hard landing on the lunar surface that terminated its functioning." Video Watch the launch of India's first lunar mission »

Ramachandra Rao Guruprasad, a spokesman for the Indian Space Research Organization, said the probe was not meant to be retrieved.

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"One of the objectives of this probe is to understand the moon for future soft landings," he said. He added that the Chandrayaan-1 was to transmit the data it recorded from the probe to the ISRO.

The Chandrayaan-1 -- Chandrayaan means "moon craft" in Sanskrit -- was successfully launched from southern India on October 22 and is now orbiting the moon. Feeling spacy?

Its two-year mission is to take high-resolution, three-dimensional images of the moon's surface, especially the permanently shadowed polar regions. It also will search for evidence of water or ice and attempt to identify the chemical composition of certain lunar rocks, the group said.

The craft is carrying payloads from the United States, the European Union and Bulgaria. India plans to share the data from the mission with other programs, including NASA.


The Indian space agency noted that the landing came on a historically significant day -- the birthday of late Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who started the modern Indian space program in 1962.

Two years ago, the European Space Agency sent the Smart-1 probe smashing into the lunar surface.

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