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  First European moon mission set for July
Updated 04 March 2003, 19.57

The Smart 1 is using an ion thruster
The Smart 1 is using an ion thruster
The first ever European mission to the moon is hoping to blast off in July this year.

Scientists working on the project hope the Smart 1 spacecraft will launch around the 15 July.

The key part of the mission is to test out new technology that will make it easier for us to explore further into space in the future.

One of the things the unmanned robotic probe will be testing is a new way of powering spacecraft called an 'ion thruster'.

It could even find out how the moon was made
It could even find out how the moon was made
Another experiment hopes to prove that the moon was created when a giant object the size of Mars struck Earth millions of years ago.

The only problem is whether the craft will get off the launch pad in time.

The type of rocket that is going to carry Smart 1 into space blew up on its first mission in December 2002, so before any launch the rocket has to be proved safe.

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