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Korea's first lunar mission named 'Danuri'

Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter scheduled to be launched in August

Image of Danuri, the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (Korea Aerospace Research Institute)
Image of Danuri, the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (Korea Aerospace Research Institute)
South Korea's first lunar probe mission, formally known as the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter, has been named "Danuri," the Ministry of Science and ICT said Monday.

Danuri is a combination of the two Korean words "dal" and "nuri," meaning moon and enjoy, respectively. According to the ministry, the name expresses a desire for the country's first moon mission to be successful, and for the probe to enjoy everything that the moon has to offer.

Between Jan. 26 and Feb. 28, a total of 62,719 candidates were submitted for the nationwide naming contest of the country's first lunar mission. It was more than six times the number of applications submitted for the naming contest of Korea’' first homegrown space launch vehicle, the Nuri rocket, in 2018.

After three rounds of review with experts and a public preference survey of 1,000 people, Danuri was chosen as the official name for the country's lunar probe.

The ministry has completed its final space environment test for Danuri's launch in August. It is currently in the process of finalizing the process of the probe's transfer to its launch site in the US.

Danuri will blast off at 7:37 p.m. on Aug. 2 from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on a SpaceX Falcon rocket into Earth’s 300-kilometer orbit. After the launch, the Danuri team will cooperate with the US' National Aeronautics and Space Administration to follow a ballistic lunar transfer to enter the moon's 100-kilometer orbit by December. 

Equipped with six instruments -- including a lunar terrain imager, gamma-ray spectrometer and disruption tolerant network -- Danuri will carry out various missions for a year until December 2023, according to the ministry.

Danuri's objectives include identifying potential landing sites for future lunar missions, demonstrating and verifying space internet technologies and conducting scientific investigations of the environment, topography and resources on the moon.

If Danuri's launch and missions are completed, South Korea will become the 7th country in the world to have carried out a successful lunar probe mission.

By Kan Hyeong-woo (hwkan@heraldcorp.com)
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