South Korea Launches Its First Moon Mission on SpaceX Rocket

South Korea has joined the list of countries to land on the moon after launching its first mission to the moon using a SpaceX rocket. The country aims to land a probe or rover on the moon by 2030.

On Friday, at 8:08 am, South Korea’s science ministry said: that the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO), nicknamed Danuri, meaning “Enjoy the Moon,” was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the US Space Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

If successful, Danuri would join US and Indian spacecraft orbiting the moon, and a Chinese rover is exploring the moon’s far side. As South Korea’s first lunar exploration, its $180 million mission features a boxy solar-powered satellite that will pass just 100 km above the lunar surface.

Scientists hope to collect geological and other data from this low polar orbit for at least a year. This is South Korea’s second trip into space in six weeks. In June, South Korea successfully used a rocket for the first time to put a group of satellites into orbit around the Earth. The first attempt last fall failed, with the test satellite failing to reach orbit.

In early May, South Korea joined a NASA-led alliance to explore the moon with astronauts in the years and decades. The first launch of NASA’s Artemis program is scheduled for the end of the month. The goal is to land a crew on the moon within two years of sending an empty crew module to the moon.

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