SEOUL, Aug. 05 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s 1st lunar orbiter, the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO), also known as Danuri, was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral launch pad in Florida, United States, on Thursday, Aug. 7:08 pm EST for a five month trip to the moon.
The lunar orbiter designed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) was flown to the US on July 5 for pre-launch tests. The Falcon 9 rocket carried out two stages of separation and fairing along with placing the lunar orbiter KPLO in space 40 minutes after launch and at a distance of 1,656 km from Earth.
According to confirmation from the Ministry of Science and ICT, contact was made with the ground station via antenna in Canberra, Australia at 9:40 am (Seoul time), about 100 minutes after takeoff. The orbiter will then make its way to the Moon in a move called a ballistic lunar transfer (BLT) in an effort to save fuel. The success of placing the orbiter on its planned trajectory will be known two or three hours after the launch and the Ministry of Science and ICT will hold a press conference today at 2 pm on Friday.
So it will aim to go 156,000 km deep into space, then return to Earth by performing a flight in the shape of a Möbius strip to reach the Moon. It will enter lunar orbit on December 16 before settling at an altitude of 100 km above the moon on December 31. Danuri, weighing 678 kilograms, will begin orbiting the moon in January 2023 for a year-long observation mission.
Today’s launch was originally scheduled for August 3 (Korean time) but was pushed back today due to an anomaly in a sensor mounted on one of the nine first-stage engines. If it succeeds in reaching the moon as planned while operating normally, South Korea will become the seventh country to send an orbiter or probe to the moon, after Russia, the United States, Japan, Europe, China and India.
South Korea’s space exploration began 30 years ago with the launch of the country’s first satellite, Uribyeol-1 (Our Star), or KITSTAT-1, on August 11, 1992, on an Ariane 4 V-52 rocket from French Guiana. The Danuri Chandra mission will greatly contribute to the development of the country’s space and astronomy sciences but also to the acquisition of space territory.
Ahn Hyung-jun, a researcher at the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STEPI), elaborated that “the farthest an object sent with our own technology was a geostationary satellite placed in orbit 36,000 kilometers above sea level and the country is planning today. to reach the Moon, which is 380,000 km from Earth”, adding that “if we can send an explorer dedicated to scientific research instead of putting utility satellites in orbit, it means that the country has become a developed country that can go into space and contribute to the knowledge of humanity. to expand.”
Once in orbit around the moon, the KPLO lunar orbiter will create a polarized map of the moon’s surface, locate landing points, analyze the magnetic field and search for resources with six instruments, five of which are designed with Korean technology. Also, a data transfer experiment over the Internet in space will be conducted using DTN (Delay/Disruption Tolerant Network) technology. Among these facts, there will be a song by the group Bangtan Boys (BTS), “Dynamite”. The orbiter will test and send this song back to Earth.
A camera with an accuracy of 1.7 meters, called ShadowCam and designed by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), was fixed in this South Korean lunar orbit to observe the polar regions of the Moon. Data collected by this camera will contribute to American plans to send astronauts to the south pole of the moon, called Artemis, in 2025.