April 11, 2022 13:06
Korea will launch its first lunar orbiting spacecraft in the U.S. this summer.
The Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) will circumnavigate the moon for a month starting in January 2023 to conduct various scientific missions but also transmit super boy band Bangtan Boys' song "Dynamite" to earth.
The Korea Aerospace Research Institute last Friday said the orbiter will be launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 8:35 a.m. on Aug. 1 Korean time.
It will be carried by a Falcon 9 rocket from Elon Musk's company Space X.
Korea has spent W236.7 billion since 2016 to develop the lunar orbiter (US$1=W1,229). The project was changed four times due to technical issues including the weight and trajectory of the orbiter. It weighs 678 kg and is 2.14 m wide, 1.82 m long and 2.29 m high. It will carry a NASA camera as well as communication equipment developed by Korea.
Korea has world-leading satellite technology but has yet to send a gadget past low-earth or geostationary orbit.
The moon is 384,000 km from earth, but KARI has embraced the "slingshot" or ballistic lunar transfer (BLT) method of using the gravitational energy of the sun, earth and moon to maximize fuel efficiency, so the KPLO will first travel 1.56 million km away from earth before entering the moon's orbit.
It will spend four months in space and circle the moon five times on an elliptical course starting on Dec. 16 before attempting to enter its orbit on Dec. 31 or Jan. 1 next year.
The Ministry of Science and ICT is running a competition to name the orbiter and has narrowed 62,719 suggestions down to 10. The name will be decided in early May.
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