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Sat 15 Nov 2008 11:31 AM

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India celebrates moon landing

Newspapers euphoric about landing of probe on moon, milestone in 45-year-old space programme.

Indian newspapers Saturday were euphoric about the landing of an Indian probe on the moon, marking a milestone for the country's 45-year-old space programme.

"The tricolour has landed," trumpeted the Hindustan Times daily in a banner headline, referring to India's green, orange and white flag.

"India touches the moon," said the Indian Express newspaper.

The probe made a textbook-perfect landing on the lunar surface late Friday after being released from the unmanned Chandrayaan-1 orbiter circling the moon, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced.

India now joins Russia, the United States, Japan and the European Space Agency in successfully landing moon probes.

India's first lunar mission began Oct. 22 when a rocket transported Chandrayaan-1 into space.

"We have now successfully put our national flag on the lunar surface," ISRO chairman Madhavan Nair announced late Friday to scientists' cheers.

"We have also emerged as a low-cost travel agency to space," he added, referring to the mission's $80 million price tag which is less than half spent on similar expeditions by other countries.

Buoyed by its success, ISRO plans to send a second unmanned spacecraft to the moon in 2012 and separately launch satellites to study Mars and Venus.

Chandrayaan-1 -- the Sanskrit word for moon craft - is on a two-year orbital mission to provide a detailed map of the mineral, chemical and topographical characteristics of the moon's surface.

India started its space programme in 1963, developing its own satellites and launch vehicles to cut dependence on overseas agencies.

It first staked its claim for a share of the global commercial launch market by sending an Italian satellite into orbit in 2007. In January, it launched an Israeli spy satellite.

India is also hoping the mission will boost its space programme into the same league as regional powerhouses Japan and China.

But India still has a long way to go to catch up with China which, together with the United States, Russia and the European Space Agency, is already well established in the commercial launch sector.

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sid 11 years ago

let me be the first to give a heart felt congratulations to India on its lunar landing. We are all proud of this achievement. Greetings from Iran