Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO), Korea’s first deep-space mission commenced on Thursday

South Korea’s first deep-space mission kicked off with the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) lifting off on Thursday, 4 August. The KPLO took off atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. This launch has set the stage for further ambitious moon efforts for both Korea and the world ahead. 

The KPLO is also known as Danuri. Officials of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), in charge of the mission, stated that the Danuri would be the first step for ensuring and verifying capability of space exploration for the nation. 

This commencement will lead toward a robotic moon landing by 2030 if all goes according to plan. KARI officials also asserted that this lunar exploration would enhance the space technologies of Korea. 

The Falcon 9 took off a pad at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on 4 August, at 7:08 p.m. EDT (2308 GMT). The two stages of the rocket separated 2.5 minutes after launch and escalated on their separate ways. 

The second stage involved carrying KPLO into the sky to deploy it into a ballistic lunar transfer orbit as planned 40 minutes after liftoff. The KPLO will slip into the lunar orbit in mid-December. The orbit will be circular and will stand at 60 miles (100 kms) above the moon’s gray dirt. Before this happens, the KPLO will take a long, looping and very fuel-efficient route to the moon. 

The KPLO’s lunar arrival will happen about a month after NASA’s tiny CAPSTONE probe, which was launched in late June.