|VOICE OF AMERICA|
SLUG: 2-320446 European Moon Probe
TITLE=EUROPEAN MOON PROBE (S)
HEADLINE: Europe's First Moon Probe Arrives with Revolutionary Engine
INTRO: European Space Agency officials say the continent's first Moon probe has arrived for a six-month geological survey. VOA's David McAlary reports from Washington that the orbiter has already completed its main goal -- to test a revolutionary type of spacecraft engine.
TEXT: The one-meter square SMART-1 satellite reached Moon orbit Monday, after a 14-month journey from French Guiana.
After adjusting to a lower orbit, it will gather data on the moon's origin and geological activity, map its composition, search for possible water ice and seek possible locations for future robotic and human bases.
SMART-1 propelled itself with a new type of engine that does not use tons of traditional combustible rocket fuel. Instead, it uses only several dozen liters of electrically charged xenon gas that shoots out the rear to thrust the craft forward slowly, with only the force of a puff of breath, saving precious weight.
Project Manager Giuseppe Racca says the first moon orbit will take five days.
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"So here we are in the first orbit around the Moon, but all this is thanks to the electric propulsion."
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European space officials say this new form of propulsion -- tested only once before on an American spacecraft -- will be useful to conduct inexpensive unmanned flights into deep space. (SIGNED)
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