South Korea is launching its first lunar mission, and has enlisted the help of SpaceX to complete it. You can watch this historic release live here.
It’s hard to believe, but the launch will send SpaceX a payload directly into ballistic lunar transfer orbit for the first time. And for South Korea, its first mission to the Moon, adding (fingers crossed) to a very short list of nations.
The payload of the day is the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO), also known as Danuri, on a mission managed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI). SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to launch at 23:08 UTC from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Live coverage will start 15 minutes before the launch, which can be viewed on the website SpaceX Or live on YouTube below:
To be fair, SpaceX has sent an object to the Moon before: Israel’s Beresheet lunar lander (which it crashed on the lunar surface in 2019), but did so as part of the regular Falcon 9 SHARE mission in geosynchronous transfer orbit around Earth. Once in space, Beresheet used his power increase your height gradually, eventually entering lunar orbit (and the mission’s failure had nothing to do with SpaceX). In addition, the private company has first sent objects into the depths of the solar systema. including Tesla Roadster RojoBut I’ve never sent anything directly to my sweet Luna before.
That will change today. SpaceX reports an 80% chance of favorable weather. If the launch does need to be cancelled, the company will try again tomorrow at 23:00 UTC.
After separation, the rocket’s first stage will attempt to land on an autonomous barge just read the instructions, is currently stationed 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 would restart and the engines would shut down when the mission clock reached 35:15. Danuri will appear and begin its journey to the Moon five minutes later.
The 500-kg probe will enter lunar polar orbit in mid-December, where it will operate 100 kilometers above the surface for at least a year. If the mission is carried forward, KPLO will fall into an orbit of 70 km above the Moon. a publication Teslarati explains why it would take so long for Danuri to reach its target orbit:
Instead of launching the satellite into Earth orbit as a rideshare payload, KPLO will be the only spacecraft aboard the Falcon 9, and the SpaceX rocket will directly send the orbiter on a type of translunar injection (TLI) trajectory known as lunar ballistic transfer. Is known. (BLT). A BLT is much slower than some alternative TLI trajectories, but it trades speed for exceptional efficiency, making it easier to launch for the Falcon 9 and ultimately requiring less propellant to get the orbiter into orbit. Due to which more useful time is available around the moon.
The mission’s main objective is to “develop native lunar exploration technologies, demonstrate the ‘Internet of Space’ and conduct scientific investigations of the lunar environment, topography and resources, as well as identify potential landing sites for future missions”. According to Pitcher. The space agency provided a high-sensitivity camera for the mission, and South Korea developed four other instruments: a lunar terrain imager, a wide-angle polarimetric camera (called a PolCam), a magnetometer and a gamma camera. -ray spectrometer. Combined, these five devices weigh no more than 40kg.
A team of scientists sponsored by NASA will participate in the analysis of data coming from the mission. Using POLCAM, scientists at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, will study lunar pyroclastic deposits, ash deposits that formed long before violent volcanic eruptions. According to an email from SSI, “Such ash deposits may come from deep within the lunar interior and may contain volatile material, including water.” “Therefore, they have the potential to provide insight into the nature of the lunar interior and represent a potential resource for future human use of lunar resources.”
We wish South Korea the best of luck on this important mission, as another country seeks to establish a presence around the Moon.