With Danuri, there are now two probes en route to lunar orbit

Eric Bottlaender

Space specialist

August 09, 2022 at 08:45 am


KARI KPLO Danuri lunar probe © SpaceX

A short journey between the Earth and the Moon… Credits: SpaceX

SpaceX succeeded on August 5 in sending the first South Korean space probe on a lunar trajectory. As with the Capstone mission, it will take several months to reach its destination, but until then the scientific teams will be able to prepare for these new data.

The KARI acquires its letters of nobility!

Danuri on the SpaceX train

Every 6.3 days. This is the rate at which SpaceX is launching its Falcon 9 rockets in 2022. An extraordinary rate, which would almost make you forget that none of this is routine, and that the extreme reliability of the equipment is only due to a titanic job on the part of the teams of the American operator.

This August 5 at 1:08 a.m. Paris (late afternoon in Florida), it was again Falcon 9 that shook the East Coast, with a launch in the service of KARI, the Korean space agency from South. The culmination of several weeks of preparation, this launch of the Danuri probe (also called KPLO, for Korean Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter) lasted 40 minutes and 23 seconds until the ejection of the small vehicle of 678 kg. The latter then immediately opened its solar panels and deployed its main antenna to communicate with the teams on the ground.

Also on the SpaceX side, it was a 34e success this year… Including on the recovery and reuse side: the main booster of the rocket was flying for the 6e times and landed safely on the deck of SpaceX’s deep-sea platform.

Winding moon road

Danuri’s mission, which will observe the Moon in a polar orbit at less than 100 km altitude, should last at least one Earth year, but if all goes well, will not start until December.

It will indeed take time for the probe to maneuver while saving as much fuel as possible, passing through the Lagrange Point Earth-Moon L1, then through an elliptical orbit around the Moon, and numerous trajectory adjustments.

KARI will then be able to benefit its scientists but also the world community (the agency is very advanced in Open Data) from the results of its five instruments, with NASA taking care of the sixth.

KARI KPLO Danuri lunar probe © KARI

The South Korean Danuri probe. Credits: KARI

Danuri, CAPSTONE and Artemis I, it’s a crowd!

Danuri is not the only probe on a “long” trajectory to the Moon. There is obviously the CAPSTONE probe, much smaller… and which, remember, caused some cold sweats among the NASA teams when they decided to stop communicating for a few days.

CAPSTONE is doing very well today, and at the end of July she succeeded in her third maneuver, on a gigantic ellipse 1.25 million kilometers from the Earth! Its entry into lunar orbit should take place before that of Danuri, on November 13.

And even before these two, we will be impatiently awaiting another extraordinary lunar mission, which pays more into gigantism, with Artemis I and its large Orion capsule. It will have taken off and landed before Danuri or CAPSTONE reaches the Moon!

Source : Nasaspaceflight

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