South Korea began its first mission to the Moon this week, with the Korean Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) mission launching from Florida . Using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the uncrewed spacecraft succeeded in placing South Korea among the countries with the Moon mission, marking the start of the year-long mission.
The KPLO spacecraft was launched from Launch Zone 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The spacecraft, which took off on Thursday, August 4, was shown in video footage shared by SpaceX.
The spacecraft will now travel for four and a half months and enter the Moon’s orbit, following a path called a fuel-efficient ballistic trajectory . It will enter lunar orbit at 100 kilometers per hour and embark on an 11-month mission to collect geological and other data.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 4, 2022
What Is South Korea’s Moon Mission Aiming?
The orbiting spacecraft is named after Danuri , which combines two Korean artifacts meaning Moon (da) and pleasure (nuri). As a nod to one of Korea’s most popular cultural exports, the wireless space communications system the orbiter will test during its mission will use K-pop group BTS’s Dynamite song in a test. The test, called the Disruptive Network Experiment Load (DTNPL), is very important for South Korea, which is working on a communications network that can handle outages.
Other equipment in orbit includes a NASA vehicle called ShadowCam . This instrument will search for craters on the Moon that are constantly in shadow and look for resources such as water that may be found there. Other instruments will use gamma-ray bursts, the magnetic field between Earth and its satellite, and a high-resolution camera to capture images of the Moon’s surface.