India to test space capsule as part of moon mission

January 2, 2007 - 0:0
NEW DELHI (AFP) -- India plans to launch a capsule into orbit early next year and bring it back to Earth, an initial step towards an unmanned mission to the moon by 2010.

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), which has said it hopes to send an unmanned probe to the moon in the next three years, has said it needs to test its re-entry and recovery technology, the Indian Express report said Sunday.

The agency will launch a 50-kilogram (110 pound) capsule and then have it re-enter and splash into the Bay of Bengal after 15 to 30 days of orbit around the Earth, the newspaper said.

The announcement is the latest by India's space agency that show an expansion in policy from projects meant to aid national development to a growing interest in space exploration, the report said.

The space agency also said last month that it planned to send an unmanned mission to Mars by 2013 to look for evidence of life.

The six-to-eight-month mission, would cost three billion rupees (67 million dollars), the Hindustan Times reported.