The launch of Japan's Lunar-A space probe will be delayed for at least another three years, following mechanical faults. The launch was originally planned for mid-1997 and postponed on two occasions by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, because of mechanical problems.

During tests, two "penetrators" - which will be fired onto the moon's surface by the spacecraft - cracked, destroying measurement circuits and making it impossible to collect data. Another series of tests will be needed, forcing the launch to be postponed until April 2002, at the earliest.

The project is intended to collect lunar seismic data to estimate the size of the moon's core.

Source: Flight International