Ayan Mukherjee: South Korea on Friday launched its first lunar orbiter, which is planned to land on the Moon by the middle of December. The Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter, also known as Danuri, or “enjoy the Moon,” was launched early on Friday by Elon Musk’s aerospace business SpaceX aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
Around 9:40 a.m., the 678-kilogram Danuri started speaking with a base station. Vice Science Minister Oh Tae-seog stated at a briefing that “analysis of the received information confirmed…Danuri was running appropriately.” He said that the orbiter has started moving in the direction of the moon.
Tae-seog added, “Analysis of the acquired satellite data showed that Danuri’s solar panel was appropriately unfurled to begin electricity generation”.
The mission will begin looking for a landing site after it enters the moon’s orbit in December, according to the ministry. If successful, South Korea will rank fourth in Asia, behind China, Japan, and India, and become the seventh country in the world to explore the moon.
The launch, which was originally scheduled to take place on Wednesday, was previously postponed due to a SpaceX rocket maintenance issue. Notably, South Korea has been giving its space program a lot of attention and hopes to send a probe to the moon by the year 2030.
According to Reuters, it has also joined the Artemis project, which aims to get back to the moon by 2024.
The seven-year-old spacecraft Danuri will test space internet technologies for connecting satellites or exploratory vehicles. The orbiter will play the song “Dynamite” by the K-pop group BTS to test this wireless network.
As well as the perpetually dark and chilly regions near the poles, scientists are optimistic that Danuri may discover undiscovered water and ice sources on the Moon.
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