Watch live as SpaceX attempts its first direct launch to the Moon

A Falcon 9 rocket during launch last July.

A Falcon 9 rocket during launch last July.
photo, SpaceX

South Korea is launching its first lunar mission. And SpaceX has been brought in to help. You can watch this historic launch live here.

It’s hard to believe, but the upcoming launch marks the first time that SpaceX will send a payload directly into ballistic lunar transfer orbit. And as far as South Korea is concerned, this marks its first mission to the Moon, adding itself (fingers crossed) to a very small list of nations to do so.

payload of the day One mission managed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) is the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO), also known as Danuri. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to launch at 7:08 p.m. ET from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Live coverage will start 15 minutes before launch, which you can watch here SpaceX Or on the feed below.

KPLO Mission

To be fair, SpaceX has sent an object to the Moon before, namely Israel’s Beresheet Moon Lander (which crashed to the lunar surface in 2019), but it was carried out in a geosynchronous transfer orbit around Earth as part of a routine Falcon 9 rideshare mission. Once in space, Beresheet used his power to gradually increase its heightis finally entering its lunar orbit (and The failure of the mission had nothing to do with SpaceX). In addition, the private company has First sent objects deep into the solar systema. including red tesla roadsterBut never before has it sent anything directly to our beloved moon.

This is fixed to change today, SpaceX is reporting an 80% chance of favorable weather. Will the launch be scrutinized, the company will try again tomorrow at 7:00 PM ET.

After phase separation, the first stage will attempt to land just read the instructions The droneship is currently stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. This particular booster has already made several successful landings. Once in space and about 34 minutes into the mission, the second stage would start again, with the engine cut off when the mission clock reached 35:15. Danuri will deploy five minutes later and begin its journey to the Moon.

Diagram depicting the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO).

Diagram depicting the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO).
Image: KAVI

The 1,100-pound (500-kilogram) probe will enter into a lunar polar orbit in mid-December, where it will operate 60 miles (100 kilometers) above the surface for at least one year. Should the mission be extended, KPLO will drop to an orbit that’s 43 miles (70 km) above the Moon. A post Teslarati explains why it’s going to take so long for Danuri to reach its target orbit:

Instead of launching the satellite into Earth orbit as a rideshare payload, KPLO… will be the only spacecraft on board the Falcon 9, and the SpaceX rocket will send the orbiter directly onto a type of trans-lunar injection (TLI) trajectory known as Is. Ballistic lunar transfer. A BLT is much slower than some alternative TLI trajectories, but it trades speed for exceptional efficiency, making launch easier for the Falcon 9 and ultimately requiring less propellant for the orbiter to enter orbit. Because there is more useful time around the moon.

The mission’s primary goals are to “develop indigenous lunar exploration technologies, demonstrate a ‘space Internet’, and conduct scientific investigations of the lunar environment, topography and resources, as well as identify potential landing sites for future missions.” ” according to NASA. The space agency provided a high-sensitivity camera for the mission, with South Korea developing four of its other instruments: a lunar terrain imager, a wide-angle polarimetric camera (called a PolCam), a magnetometer and A gamma-ray spectrometer. Combined, these five devices weigh no more than 88 pounds (40 kg).

A team of scientists sponsored by NASA will participate in the analysis of incoming mission data. Using Polcam, scientists at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, will study lunar pyroclastic deposits—ash deposits that formed long ago in the wake of violent volcanic eruptions. “Such ash deposits may have been obtained deep in the lunar interior and may contain volatile material, including water,” according to an emailed statement from SSI. “Thus they have the potential to provide information about the nature of the lunar interior and represent a potential resource for future human use of lunar resources.”

We wish South Korea the best of luck on this important mission, as another country seeks to establish a presence around the Moon.

More: These Failed Missions to the Moon Remind Us That Space Is Hard,

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