South Korea's first moon probe was successfully launched into space by SpaceX Falcon 9

South Korea's first moon probe was successfully launched into space by SpaceX Falcon 9

Tonight, at 02:08 Moscow time, the first moon probe developed and created in South Korea is the first South Korean spacecraft to go beyond the Earth's orbit; for South Korea, it is an important success that will test the level of the national space industry.

The Corea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter launched a Falcon 9 launch vehicle from SpaceX. Two and a half minutes after the launch from the SLC-40 site at the Space Force Base at Cape Canaveral, stage one and stage two split. Nine minutes after the launch, the first stage, for which it was the sixth flight, landed on a barge in the ocean, and the second one flew for about 40 minutes before the coils released the KPLO probe into the free flight to the Moon.

The chosen trajectory will allow the KPLO probe to reach the Moon by mid-December, and the probe will then reach a circular polar orbit about 100 km above the moon surface. The scientific work of the probe will last for about one year.

On the Danuri probe, with a mass of 678 kg, with two solar batteries directed at the antenna, eight orbital and orientation engines, there are five scientific instruments, one of which has been provided by NASA. American experts have handed over to the probe a highly sensitive ShadowCam camera that can take pictures of crater contents on the poles of the moon, where there is always a shadow, so scientists hope to evaluate water ice deposits in craters for use in future moon missions and to develop permanent bases on the moon.

Four South Korean instruments are represented by a LUTI camera for detailed mapping of the surface of the Moon, a PolCam camera for polarymetric observation of the Moon in the optical and ultraviolet waves, a KMAG magnetometer for the study of the magnetic field of the Moon and the lunar winds, and a KGRS gamma spectrometer for study of the distribution in the surface layer of the Moon of chemical elements and especially water.

The scientists intend to use these probes both for the benefit of South Korea by planning robotic missions to the Moon by the end of the decade and to share them with NASA as part of the development of the Artemis programme. So far, Koreans rely entirely on foreign launch vehicles, but in June this year the country successfully launched its own launch vehicle.