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Discussion on Danuri, Korea's first lunar orbiter that was successfully launched in Florida Updated: 2022-08-05 16:50:49 KST

Like we've just heard, South Korea's first lunar orbiter "Danuri" was launched into space this morning and has successfully communicated with its ground control station.
The orbiter's journey to the moon is expected to take four and a half months.
If Danuri reaches its target orbit by the end of this year successfully, South Korea will become the seventh country in the world to have explored the moon after China, India, Japan, Russia, the UK and the U.S.

For an indepth review on the latest moon mission, and its significance, I'm joined to my right, by our reporter Shin Ye-eun and also joining us via Skype is SHIN Dong-hyuk, Assistant Professor at the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.

Welcome to you both to the show.
(SHIN) 1. So let's start with Professor Shin, how did you find Danuri's launch today?

(YEEUN) 2. Ye-eun, one of the most heated topics right now is HOW Danuri is going to make it to moon.
It's taking a very long flight method, the "BLT" method as was explained in Jungsil's report.
What's so significant about Korea's latest use of this method?


As Jungsil mentioned in her report, the BLT method can be considered key to Danuri's success.
Though it takes the orbiter 6 MILLION kilometers around space it uses the least amount of fuel.
All thanks to the gravitational force from the sun and Earth.
Once the orbiter flies up to 1-point 5-6 million kilometers away from Earthto a point called "Lagrange" or "L1", it can use this gravitational force to pick up speed and soar to the moon.
We need to save up as much fuel for Danuri to conduct a wide array of missions from next year.
You should keep in mind, not a lot of countries have been able to attempt the BLT method because it is harder to control.
If the orbiter goes off trajectory slightly, it won't be able to collect enough gravitational force to fly further.
So the only countries that have used the BLT method was Japan in 1990 with its space rocket Hiten.
And the United States in 2011 with its Grail Mission.
Originally, Danuri was just going to go directly to the moon.
But it actually got heavier after the final preparations were made.
It weighs 1-hundred 20 kilograms more than what engineers had been aiming forwith its total weight at 6-hundred 78 kilograms.
If it had used other flight methods that would have taken a much shorter amount of time, it wouldn't have had enough FUEL.
They would have only been able to conduct studies for a maximum of six months.
That's why KARI engineers said in a briefing held earlier this afternoon that choosing the BLT method was definitely the right choice but it wasn't an easy one to make.
Let's take a listen.

"We struggled trying to reduce the weight of Danuri so it could have enough fuel to conduct all the year-long planned missions. We had three flight options to send Danuri into orbit. We never thought of doing the BLT method as it was going to take us much longer. So we went abroad countless times to learn how to conduct the BLT flight. Though it was a difficult process, it was definitely the right choice."


(SHIN) 3. Professor, what other types of flight methods have other orbiters used in the past? What's the decision behind using the BLT method for Danuri?

(YEEUN) 4. Ye-eun, can you tell us about the timeline once Danuri reaches lunar orbit in December??

Well Mok-yeon, a range of studies will be carried out during the year-long mission.
All thanks to the six instruments attached to Danuri.
One of them is the ShadowCam, provided by NASA, which will investigate "shadow" regions of the moon to check for resources like water.
This device will also look for the best landing site for the upcoming Artemis Project, which will be a crewed lunar landing mission to the south pole of the moon.
The other five instruments on the KPLO were fully-developed in South Korea.
The PolCam and LUTI, short for lunar terrain imager will act as the orbiter's eyes providing high-resolution images of the moon's surface.
The magnetic strength of the moon will be measured using a KPLO magnometer, while a Gamma ray spectrometer will also be used to analyze lunar topography.
Lastly, a DTNPL device will be attached.
You can think of this as an internet communication device or "space wifi".
This network device will be used to send images or videos from the moon to earth.

(SHIN) 5. Professor, are there any other projects in the pipeline for Danuri once the year is up? Will Danuri still have enough power to do something more?

(YEEUN) 6. So Ye-eun, we know that its South Korea's first ever mission to the moon, but can you tell us more about the significance of the Danuri project?


Mok-yeon, South Korea is now the seventh country capable of a mission to the moon.
We were late to the game compared to forerunners like Russia and the U.S. that launched lunar missions in the 1960s, but we've definitely shown rapid progress.
The Danuri project started in 2016, which means it only took us six years to come this far.
And Danuri's success is even more meaningful, because it comes just a little after South Korea's homegrown space rocket Nuri successfully reached space in June.
I've been actively following up on what has been happening in the Nuri project as well.
What's worth noting is that both Nuri and Danuri have kicked off a new era of space travel for South Korea.
Up to a few years ago, the government was solely responsible for developing space technology.
But now, orbiters and rockets, as well as the devices attached to themhave been jointly developed by the private and public sector.
For instance, a total of 40 companies, 13 universities and 6 government funded research institutes were on board the Danuri project.
This is good news for South Korea, because the more accessible aerospace R&D is, the faster we can see development.

(SHIN) 7. Professor, as Ye-eun mentioned South Korea seems to be a little late in entering the space game. Regardless, why have we been working so hard for this?


(SHIN) 8. Then, Professor, what has the reaction been from other countries?
For starters, the U.S. seems to be on board with Korea's deep space exploration because it asked the Danuri team to attach NASA' ShadowCam to it. How should we interpret this?

(extra) (YEEUN) 9. Lastly, Ye-eun, as you've been our Danuri correspondent for quite some time now, what are you most looking forward to?

I'm mostly excited for Danuri to test its wireless internet connection between space and Earth.
I think this could be an important development for future lunar projects.
Especially as South Korea aims to actually LAND on the moon in 2031.
I'm also counting down the days to hear when the spacecraft will stream BTS' song Dynamite from space, to see whether this space internet works.


Alright, will look forward to that too, but we'll have to wrap up our discussion now, thank you Yeeun, and Professor Shin, we appreciate your efforts.
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