SpaceX launches South Korea’s first moon mission, an orbiter named Danuri – TechCrunch

South Korea is on its way to the moon.

Last night, the country launched its first-ever lunar mission — indeed, its first-ever mission beyond low Earth orbit. Formerly called the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO), the mission, led by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), is now called Danuri, a pun on the Korean words for “moon” and “enjoy.” Its main goal is to test South Korea’s lunar spacecraft technology before attempting to land on the surface, likely in 2030 if all goes well.

Danuri lifted off at 7:08 p.m. EDT on Aug. 4 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, with the rocket’s booster successfully landing on the “Just Read the Instructions” drone ship just minutes after liftoff .

The spaceship is now on a very circuitous path to the moon. It will first fly towards the sun before returning to its destination and arriving in lunar orbit in mid-December. Known as a lunar ballistic transfer, this longer route uses gravity assisted by the sun to make the journey more fuel efficient.

When Danuri arrives on the moon, stationed in a 62-mile orbit, it will conduct research with its six scientific instruments: a magnetometer, a gamma-ray spectrometer, an experimental communications system, and three cameras, including one developed by NASA was sensitive enough to see into the moon’s permanently shadowed craters, which may contain water ice.

Should the mission be successful, South Korea will become the eighth political body to conduct a lunar mission, alongside the United States, the former Soviet Union, China, Japan, India, Luxembourg and the European Union. The majority of these missions were flybys and orbiters, plus a handful of robotic landings and only six human landings.

It’s a busy year for the moon. NASA recently launched its CAPSTONE mission, and its Artemis I mission is scheduled to launch later this month. Russia is set to return to the moon for the first time since 1976 with its Luna 25 lander, due to launch later this year. And several private organizations are on the moon, including the American companies Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines, which will fly under NASA’s CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) program, and the Japanese company ispace, which is one of the United Arab Emirates built rover will transport. SpaceX launches South Korea’s first moon mission, an orbiter named Danuri – TechCrunch

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