South Korea launches homegrown lunar orbiter aboard a SpaceX rocket from Florida.
Orbiter “Danuri,” which means “enjoy the moon,” successfully separates from rocket.
Launch comes as South Korea ramps up its burgeoning space programme, with the goal of sending a probe to the moon by 2030.
South Korea launched its first moon mission on Thursday, launching a homegrown lunar orbiter aboard a SpaceX rocket from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
On Friday morning, a live broadcast of the launch in South Korea showed the orbiter “Danuri,” which means “enjoy the moon,” successfully separating from the Falcon 9 rocket.
The 678-kilogram (about 1,500-pound) craft, developed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), has six payloads, including Korean-made equipment.
It is expected to enter lunar orbit in December before embarking on a yearlong observation mission to search for potential landing sites for future missions, conduct scientific research on the lunar environment, and test space internet technology, according to a statement from South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT.
If it is successful, South Korea will become the world’s seventh lunar explorer, and Asia’s fourth, after China, Japan, and India.
The launch on Friday comes as South Korea ramps up its burgeoning space programme, with the goal of sending a probe to the moon by 2030.
In June, the country successfully launched satellites into orbit using its homegrown Nuri rocket, marking an important milestone in the country’s space programme.
Space launches have long been a contentious issue on the Korean peninsula, where North Korea is sanctioned for its nuclear-armed ballistic missile programme.
North Korea called for the expansion of its space rocket launch site in March, after South Korea and the United States accused it of testing a new intercontinental ballistic missile while launching a space vehicle.
South Korea claims that its space programme is for peaceful and scientific purposes, and that any military applications of the technology, such as spy satellites, are for defence.
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