SMART-1: Europe Goes to the Moon; Launch set for Sunday Morning

Press Release From: Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council
Posted: Thursday, September 25, 2003

image The launch of SMART-1, Europe's first mission to the Moon, is due to take place in the early hours of Sunday 28th September (12.02 a.m. BST).

The Mission was due to launch in August but due to technical problems with one of the other satellites onboard the Ariane 5 rocket, the mission was delayed.

SMART-1, the European Space Agency's (ESA) lunar probe will be launched from Kourou in French Guiana powered only by an ion engine which Europe will be testing for the first time as the main spacecraft propulsion. Onboard will be D-CIXS, an X-ray spectrometer built by scientists and engineers in the UK, which will provide information on what the Moon is made of.

Once it has arrived at the Moon (expected to be in January 2005), SMART-1 will perform an unprecedented scientific study of the Moon- providing valuable information which will shed light on some of the unanswered questions. The spacecraft will search for signs of water-ice in craters near the Moon's poles, provide data on the still uncertain origin of the Moon and reconstruct its evolution by mapping and the surface distribution of minerals and key chemical elements.

A launch event is taking place at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire. See Notes to Editors for further details.

For further information please see previous releases


PPARC Press Office
Peter Barratt
Tel: 01793 442025. Mobile: 0787 9602899.

Gill Ormrod
Tel: 01793 442012. Mobile: 0781 8013509.

CCLRC Press Office
Jacky Hutchinson
Tel: 01235 446482. Mobile: 0777 55 85 811 (available on Sunday)

Steve Warren
Tel: 020 7215 0806. Email:

ESA Press Office
Franco Bonacina
Tel: +33 (0) 15369 7155. Email:

Giuseppe Racca, ESA SMART-1 Project Manager, Science Programme Directorate
Tel: +31 71 565 4618. E-mail:

Bernard Foing, ESA SMART-1 Project Scientist, Science Programme Directorate
Tel: + 31 71 565 5647. E-mail:

UK Science Contacts

Principal Investigator - Professor Manuel Grande (in Kourou)
CCLRC, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
Tel: 01235 446501. Mobile: 07770 652547.

Instrument Scientist - Dr Sarah Dunkin (available on Saturday and Sunday)
CCLRC, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory/University College London
Tel: 01235 446861. Mobile: 07780 955580.

Notes to Editors

Launch Night Event

A launch night event is being held at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire. There will be a short programme of talks followed by live coverage of the launch event in Kourou. For further details please contact Jacky Hutchinson at the CCLRC Press Office. Tel: 01235 446482. Mobile: 0777 55 85 811. Email:

Great British Cheese Festival

SMART-1 will be featured at the Great British Cheese Festival which takes place at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire on 27-28 September, helping to dispel the myth that the moon is made of cheese! For further information including a lunar recipe please see:-;SECTION=4725;

Mission updates

The SMART-1 launch phone line is 01235 446433. This will be updated with the latest information available nearer the time of the launch. The live coverage of the launch will be web streamed

The Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) is the UK's strategic science investment agency. It funds research, education and public understanding in four broad areas of science - particle physics, astronomy, cosmology and space science.

PPARC is government funded and provides research grants and studentships to scientists in British universities, gives researchers access to world-class facilities and funds the UK membership of international bodies such as the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, CERN, the European Space Agency and the European Southern Observatory. It also contributes money for the UK telescopes overseas on La Palma, Hawaii, Australia and in Chile, the UK Astronomy Technology Centre at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh and the MERLIN/VLBI National Facility.

// end //

More news releases and status reports or top stories.

Please follow SpaceRef on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.