Space / Espace
Back to previous selection / Retour à la sélection précédente

South Korea’s Lunar Orbiter Is on Its Way to the Moon

Printable version / Version imprimable

EIRNS—At 7:08 PM EDT on Aug. 4 a SpaceX Falcon 9 lifted off from Cape Canaveral carrying South Korea’s Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter, Danuri. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol described the spacecraft as the “pathfinder” that will give a boost to South Korea’s economy and scientific prowess. “I look forward to seeing images of the Moon … at the end of the year. Go for it, Danuri!”

The Korean orbiter will fly to the Moon on a low-energy, fuel-efficient ballistic trajectory and will arrive at the Moon on Dec. 16 to begin a year-long mission. The orbiter carries six scientific instruments, including a camera to peer into dark regions where it will look for hidden ice. In March 2021 then-President Moon Jae-in vowed to launch South Korea’s first robotic Moon lander on a domestically developed rocket by 2030. Developing a rocket with that capability had been pursued by South Korea earlier, but was sabotaged by the United States, which claimed it would have consequences for non-proliferation.

Now South Korea is on course to become the seventh nation to orbit the Moon. [mgf]