South Korea flies to the moon.
Last night, the country launched its first-ever lunar mission — in fact, its first-ever mission beyond low Earth orbit. The mission, formerly the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO), operated by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), is now called Danuri, a play on the Korean words for “moon” and “enjoy.” Its main goal is to test South Korean lunar spacecraft technology before they attempt to land on the surface, tentatively around 2030 if all goes well.
Danuri was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 7:08 pm EDT on August 4, with the booster successfully landing on the Just Read the Instructions unmanned craft just minutes after liftoff.
The spacecraft is now on a very detour to the moon. It will first fly towards the Sun, and then return to its destination and arrive in lunar orbit in mid-December. Known as a ballistic lunar transfer, this longer route uses the Sun’s gravity to make travel more economical.
When Danuri arrives at the Moon in a 62-mile high orbit, he will be conducting research with his six scientific instruments: a magnetometer, a gamma-ray spectrometer, an experimental communications system, and three cameras, including one developed by NASA. it’s sensitive enough to see inside the Moon’s permanently shadowed craters, which may contain water ice.
If the mission is successful, South Korea will become the eighth political entity to fly to the Moon, joining the United States, the former Soviet Union, China, Japan, India, Luxembourg and the European Union. Most of these missions were flyby and orbital, plus a few robotic landings and only six human landings.
This is a busy year for the Moon. NASA recently launched its Missionand this Artemis I the mission should be launched at the end of this month. Russia plans to return to the Moon for the first time since 1976 on its Luna 25 lander, scheduled to launch later this year. And several private entities are linked to the moon, including American companies. astrobot as well as Intuitive machineswhich will fly under NASA Lunar Payload Commercial Servicing Program (CLPS)as well as a Japanese company ispacewhich will carry the rover built in the United Arab Emirates.
Credit: techcrunch.com /