South Korean spacecraft launched to the moon, country’s 1st

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Cape Canaveral, Aug.5 (BNA): South Korea joined the stampede to the moon Thursday with the launch of a lunar orbiter that will scout out future landing spots.


The satellite launched by SpaceX is taking a long, roundabout path to conserve fuel and will arrive in December, said AP.


If successful, it will join spacecraft from the U.S. and India already operating around the moon, and a Chinese rover exploring the moon’s far side.


India, Russia and Japan have new moon missions launching later this year or next, as do a slew of private companies in the U.S. and elsewhere. And NASA is next up with the debut of its mega moon rocket in late August.


South Korea’s $180 million mission — the country’s first step in lunar exploration — features a boxy, solar-powered satellite designed to skim just 62 miles (100 kilometers) above the lunar surface.


Scientists expect to collect geologic and other data for at least a year from this low polar orbit.


It is South Korea’s second shot at space in six weeks. In June, South Korea successfully launched a package of satellites into orbit around Earth for the first time using its own rocket. The first try last fall fizzled, with the test satellite failing to reach orbit.


And in May, South Korea joined a NASA-led coalition to explore the moon with astronauts in the coming years and decades.


NASA is targeting the end of this month for the first launch in its Artemis program. The goal is to send an empty crew capsule around the moon and back to test the systems before a crew climbs aboard in two years.


 


AHN