The Danuri orbiter — a contraction of “dal” meaning moon and “nuri” meaning enjoyment — took off Friday aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
South Korea’s first lunar probe, Danuri, left Cape Canaveral, Florida on Thursday night for a one-year mission, a key milestone for Seoul’s space ambitions, which plans to land a spacecraft on the moon. Here’s to 2030.
The Danuri orbiter — a contraction of “dal,” meaning moon, and “nuri,” meaning enjoy — lifted off aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 0008 GMT on Friday, South Korea’s science ministry said. The spacecraft is scheduled to enter lunar orbit in December.
Deputy Science Minister Oh Tae-seok said the mission was progressing smoothly and researchers were already communicating with Danuri via the US space agency’s (NASA) Deep Space Antenna in Canberra, Australia.
“Analysis of satellite data has confirmed that the Danuri solar panel has been properly deployed to start generating electricity,” he told reporters.
“Danuri is just the beginning. If we are more determined and committed to developing technology for space travel, we will be able to reach Mars, asteroids, etc. in the near future,” stressed Lee Sang-ryul, Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) for his part. In a video released before the President’s launch.
He called it “a very important milestone in the history of Korean space exploration.”
During its mission, Danuri will use six different instruments, including an ultra-sensitive camera provided by NASA that will be used specifically to study the Earth’s surface to identify landing sites for future missions.
According to the South Korean government, Danuri must be the world’s first test, a new networked space communication system that resists interference.
The probe will attempt to establish a wireless Internet environment for the purpose of connecting satellites or exploration vehicles. This wireless connection in space will be tested by streaming the song “Dynamite” by cult K-pop group BTS.
Another instrument, the ShadowCam, will record images of regions of the Moon that are permanently in shadow. Scientists hope to find hidden sources of water and ice in these dark and cold regions near the poles
“If this mission is successful, South Korea will be the seventh country in the world to conduct unmanned exploration of the moon,” a KARI official told AFP.
“This is an important moment for South Korea’s space development program, and we hope to continue to contribute to global understanding of the Moon with what Danuri discovers,” he added.
According to South Korean scientists, Danuri – which took seven years to build – will pave the way for more ambitious goals. South Korea plans to land a spacecraft on the Moon by 2030.
South Korea is one of the world’s 12th largest economies and technologically advanced nations, but it has so far lagged behind in space conquest. Elsewhere in Asia, China, Japan and India have developed advanced space programs.
Launched by SpaceX, a private company, South Korea successfully launched its first nationally designed rocket, Nuri, in June, which put several satellites into orbit after a failure in October. It thus became the seventh country in the world to successfully launch a one-ton payload on its own rocket.
North Korea is claiming their place in this club of countries with their own satellite-launching capabilities. He claimed to have put a 300-kilogram satellite into orbit using a rocket in 2012, while Seoul and Washington saw a stealth ballistic missile instead.