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Japan sets new date for lunar orbiter launch

RIA Novosti

15/08/2007 11:10 TOKYO, August 15 (RIA Novosti) - Japan's space agency announced Wednesday a new date for the launch of its Selena lunar orbit explorer, which was put off due to replacement work on two onboard satellites.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said in a statement that the launch of the spacecraft by an H-IIA launch vehicle, originally planned for August 17, would be conducted on September 13.

The selenological and engineering explorer Selene is Japan's first large lunar explorer. It consists of a main orbiter and two small satellites. Once the orbiter has reached the Moon, it will be put into an orbit at an altitude of 100 kilometers (about 62 miles).

The upcoming mission is the largest lunar mission since the U.S. Apollo program. The main goal of the Japanese expedition is to examine the Moon for information on elemental and mineralogical composition, surface and sub-surface structure, and its magnetic and gravitational fields.

The results are expected to lead to a better overall understanding of the Moon's evolution, the agency said.

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