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South Korea's first spacecraft has been sent to the moon

South Korea joined the rush to the moon on Thursday by sending up a lunar orbiter that will look for good places to land in the future.

SpaceX's satellite is taking a long, winding route to save fuel and will arrive in December.

If it works, it will join US and Indian spacecraft already orbiting the moon and a Chinese rover exploring the far side of the moon.

India, Russia, and Japan are all planning to launch new moon missions later this year or early next year. So are a lot of private companies in the U.S. and other places. And then, in late August, NASA will launch its mega moon rocket.

South Korea's first step into lunar exploration costs $180 million and includes a boxy, solar-powered satellite that will fly just 62 miles (100 km) above the moon's surface. Scientists think that they will be able to get geological and other information from this low polar orbit for at least a year.

Space launch
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter, or KPLO, lifts off from launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

This is South Korea's second attempt to reach space in just six weeks.

In June, South Korea used its own rocket for the first time to put a package of satellites into orbit around Earth. The first attempt failed last fall when the test satellite couldn't get into space.

And in May, South Korea joined a group led by NASA to send astronauts to the moon over the next few years and decades. The first launch in NASA's Artemis program is planned for the end of this month. The goal is to send an empty crew capsule around the moon and back to test the systems before a crew gets on board in two years.

Space launch.
By 2030, South Korea hopes to land its first space craft on the moon.

Danuri, which in Korean means "enjoy the moon," has six scientific instruments on board, including a camera for NASA. It is made to look into the permanently dark, ice-filled craters at the poles of the Moon. NASA likes the south pole of the Moon as a place for future astronaut bases because there is evidence of frozen water there.

South Korea wants to land a robotic space probe on the moon by about 2030.

South Korean spacecraft launched to the moon, country's 1st | Deccan Herald
Sang-Ryool Lee, president of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, said in the SpaceX launch webcast that Danuri was just the beginning.

From Cape Canaveral, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket with Danuri on board took off as the sun was setting. After a few minutes, the first-stage booster, which was on its sixth flight, landed on an ocean platform to be reused.

It was the third time the U.S. sent something into space that day.

At sunrise in Florida, United Launch Alliance sent off an Atlas V rocket with an infrared satellite for the U.S. Space Force to start things off. Then, from West Texas, Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin rocket company sent six people quickly into space.

For the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office, the company Rocket Lab launched a small classified satellite from New Zealand.

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