South Korea’s First Mission to the Moon to Launch on Thursday

Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (Danuri) (Credit: Ministry of Science and ICT)

A SpaceX Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch South Korea’s first lunar mission on Thursday evening from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Liftoff is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. EDT (23:08 UTC); live coverage will begin 15 minutes before liftoff at www.spacex.com.

Danuri is a lunar orbit equipped with five instruments from South Korea and one from the United States that are designed to search for water ice, aluminum, helium-3, silicon and uranium on the lunar surface. The spacecraft will produce a topographical map of the moon to assist future lunar landings.

NASA’s ShadowCam will search for evidence of water ice in permanently shadowed regions of the moon. The instrument is 800 times more sensitive than the camera used on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Scientists at Arizona and Malin Space Science Systems developed ShadowCam.

Danuri’s other five instruments include:

  • Lunar Terrain Imager
  • Wide-Angle Polarimetric Camera
  • KPLO Magnetometer
  • KPLO Gamma Ray Spectrometer
  • Delay-Tolerant Networking experiment.

Danuri was developed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI). The spacecraft has a launch mass of 678 kg (1,495 lb).