South Korea has joined the race to the Moon with the launch of its first lunar orbiter by Elon Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX.
Danuri – meaning “enjoy the Moon” – was carried on a Falcon 9 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida by Elon Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX. It aims to enter the Moon’s orbit in December.
During the year-long mission, Danuri will use six different instruments to conduct research, including investigating the lunar surface to identify potential landing sites for future missions.
One of the instruments will evaluate disruption-tolerant, network-based space communications, which, according to South Korea’s science ministry, is a world first.
Danuri, which took seven years to build, will also try to develop a wireless Internet environment to link satellites or exploration spacecraft, the ministry added.
The lunar orbiter will stream K-pop sensation BTS’s song Dynamite to test the network.
The launch comes as South Korea accelerates its space programme, seeking to send a probe to the moon by 2030 and join nine countries working on the Artemis project aimed at a lunar landing mission by 2024.