HomeScience & TechnologySpaceX is attempting its first direct launch to the Moon

SpaceX is attempting its first direct launch to the Moon

Η South Korea launches its first lunar mission, with the help of SpaceX.

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SpaceX

The launch marks the first time SpaceX will send a payload directly into a lunar transfer orbit. And as for South Korea, this marks its first Mission on the Moon, adding itself to a very small list of nations to have done so so far.

The payload du jour is the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO), also known as Danuri, on a mission managed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI). The rocket F of SpaceX is scheduled to launch from the Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida at 7:08 p.m. ET. Live coverage will begin 15 minutes before launch, which you can watch on SpaceX.

YouTube

To be fair, SpaceX has sent an object to the Moon before, namely the Beresheet Moon of Israel (which crashed into the lunar surface in 2019), but this was as part of a routine Falcon 9 mission into a geosynchronous transfer orbit around Earth. Just found on space, Beresheet used its own power to gradually increase its altitude, eventually entering lunar orbit, and the mission's failure had nothing to do with SpaceX.

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In addition, the private company has previously sent objects deep into the solar system, including a red one Tesla Roadster, but it had never sent anything directly to our beloved Moon before.

Moon

This is now about to change. After separation, the first stage will attempt a landing on the droneship Just Read the Instructions, currently located in the Atlantic Ocean. This particular booster has already made several successful landings. Once in space and about 34 minutes into the mission, the second stage will restart, with the engine shutting down when the mission clock reaches 35:15. Danuri will thus begin its journey to the Moon five minutes later.

The 500-kilogram probe will enter a lunar polar orbit in mid-December, where it will operate 100 kilometers above the surface for at least a year. If the mission is extended, KPLO will fall into an orbit 70 km above the Moon.

The mission's primary goals are to "develop indigenous lunar exploration technologies, demonstrate a 'space internet', and conduct scientific surveys of the lunar environment, topography and resources, as well as identify potential landing sites for future missions," according with the NASA.

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The space agency provided a high-sensitivity camera for the mission, with South Korea developing its four other instruments: a lunar soil imager, a wide-angle polarimetric camera (named PolCam), a magnetometer, and a gamma-ray spectrometer. Combined, these five Appliances weigh no more than 40 kg.

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