India plans to complete the integration of its first lunar probe, Chandrayaan-1, by year-end, to meet the scheduled launch date on 9 April 2008.

The lunar orbiter, which will also feature an Indian-made Moon impact probe (MIP), is to be launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre by an augmented version of the indigenous four stage Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle.

Project director M Annadurai says Chandrayaan-1 will map the entire lunar surface as it circles the Moon at an altitude of 100km (62 miles) during its two-year mission. In addition to 11 scientific payloads - five from India and six from abroad - the MIP is planned to provide the Indian Space Research Organisation with expertise to develop future lunar landers.

Chandrayaan-2, a follow-on mission expected to be launched around 2011-12, will have a soft lander carrying a robotic rover.

"On reaching lunar orbit, Chandrayaan-1 will be reoriented, leading to the ejection of MIP, which carries an on-board motor," says Annadurai. "And as the MIP speeds towards the Moon its video camera will take pictures of the lunar surface."

Meanwhile, the 32m (105ft) dish antenna of the deep-space communications network to support Chandrayaan-1 and other ISRO planetary probes, including a Mars mission, will be installed soon at Bylalu village near Bangalore.