Danuri, the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO), successfully made its way into the lunar orbit, preparing itself to transmit scientific measuring data or perform technological verification tests starting next year. The first South Korean lunar orbiter will carry out a space exploration mission, making the country the world’s 7th lunar explorer, following the United States, Russia, India, China, and Japan. It raises expectations of the country getting fully ready to take a step toward space based on its technological know-how of spacecraft operation.
The Ministry of Science and ICT and the Korea Aepace Research Institute (KARI) confirmed on Wednesday that Danuri made a complete entry into the orbit of the moon at 6 p.m. a day earlier. “The orbiter’s successful entry is an opportunity for the country to go outside of the planet,” said Kim Dae-kwan, KARI’s senior researcher in the Danuri project. “This project has allowed us to secure core technologies for deep space travel.”
“South Korea reached a historically monumental milestone to promote the significance of aerospace technology across the globe and become the world’s 7th greatest aerospace powerhouse,” South Korea President Yoon Suk Yeol said in his Facebook posting on Wednesday. “The research team for making long contributions to the development of the lunar orbiter.”
Danuri, the first South Korean lunar orbiter of 678 kg-3.18-meter wide 6.3-meter long, and 2.67 high-adopts the “BLT” or ballistic lunar transfer trajectory using the gravitational pull of the Earth, the moon, and the sun to reach the moon’s orbit. Carried up by the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on Aug. 5, it traveled a total of 7.3 million kilometers or so for around 145 days.
As of now, Danuri makes a full revolution around the moon every two hours at the speed of 1.62 kilometers per second, 100 kilometers in midair,” the research crew will make sure until late next January that its payloads work out while correcting errors and distortions if any.
After then, it will get its mission fully started, equipped with five payload systems including space internet and measuring equipment independently developed by South Korean research centers and universities as well as the NASA-provided camera for polar regional images. It will work not only to draw the world’s first polarization map of the moon surface but also to search for a likely candidate site for humans to land on as part of NASA's crewed mission “Artemis Program.”
Danuri’s successful entry into the lunar orbit has been met with positive comments that South Korea has laid the technological foundation for deep space exploration. "Thanks to the Danuri project, we can now add more feasibility to the goal of sending a lunar landing vehicle by 2032," First Vice Science Minister Oh Tae-seog said. "Korea has acquired technologies for orbit design, aviation, control, and deep space communications."