Like dynamite: South Korea launches its first lunar mission

South Korea began its first mission to the moon this week with the launch of the Korea Lunar Pathfinder (KPLO) mission from Florida. Using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the unmanned spacecraft was launched on course to enter lunar orbit on a year-long mission that sees the country become one of a small group of nations launching missions to the moon.

Leaves! pic.twitter.com/dAQGvpcOCX

And the[مدش]. SpaceX August 4, 2022

The KPLO spacecraft launched from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, taking off at 7:08 p.m. ET on Thursday, Aug. 4, shown in video footage shared by SpaceX. The spacecraft will now travel for four and a half months, using a fuel-efficient trajectory called a ballistic trajectory that takes it into orbit around the Moon. It will enter a polar orbit around the Moon at an altitude of 62 miles (100 km) and begin an 11-month mission to collect geological and other data.

The Korean Pathfinder Orbiter (KPLO) mission launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 craft from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on August 4. SpaceX

The orbiting spacecraft was named Danuri, which combines two Korean acts meaning moon (da) and enjoyment (nuri). In a nod to one of Korea’s most famous cultural exports, the radio space communication system that the orbiter will test during its mission will use the K-pop band BTS’ song Dynamite as a test. The trial payload is called Disruption Tolerance Network (DTNPL), and the idea is to work on a communications network that can handle disruptions.

Other instruments on the orbiter include a NASA instrument called ShadowCam that will check craters on the moon that are always in the shadows, looking for resources like water that might be kept there. Other instruments will investigate gamma-ray bursts, the magnetic field between Earth and the Moon, and a high-resolution camera to take pictures of the lunar surface.

“If this mission is successful, South Korea will become the seventh country in the world to launch an unmanned probe to the moon,” an official at the Korea Aerospace Research Institute told AFP. “It’s a huge moment for South Korea’s space development program, and we hope to continue to contribute to the global understanding of the moon with what Danuri plans to discover.”

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