A live broadcast of the launch Friday morning in South Korea showed the orbiter “Danuri” – which means “enjoy the moon” – successfully separating. From a Falcon 9 rocket.
Developed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), the vehicle weighs 678 kilograms (about 1,500 pounds), and contains six payloads, including Korean-made equipment.
South Korea’s Ministry of Science and Information and Communications Technology said it is expected to enter lunar orbit in December before beginning a year-long observation mission where it will search for potential landing sites for future missions, conduct scientific research on the lunar environment and test internet technology in space. a permit.
If successful, South Korea will become the seventh explorer of the moon in the world, and the fourth in Asia, after China, Japan and India.
Friday’s launch comes as South Korea is accelerating its burgeoning space program and seeking to send a probe to the moon by 2030.
Space launches have long been a sensitive issue on the Korean peninsula, where North Korea faces international sanctions over its nuclear-armed ballistic missile programme.
In March, North Korea called for the expansion of its space rocket launch site to advance its space ambitions, after South Korea and the United States accused it of testing a new ICBM under the guise of launching a spacecraft.
South Korea says its space program is for peaceful and scientific purposes and any military use of this technology, such as spy satellites, is for its defense.