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(LEAD) S. Korean lunar orbiter to undergo critical trajectory maneuver on journey toward moon: KARI

All News 16:59 September 01, 2022

(ATTN: ADDS more info in para 8; ADDS photos)

SEOUL, Sept. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's unmanned space vehicle Danuri is scheduled to undergo a critical trajectory maneuver this week to travel toward the moon for the country's first lunar mission, officials said Thursday.

Danuri, also known as the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter, was launched last month aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in the U.S. state of Florida for South Korea's first space mission beyond Earth's orbit.

In this file photo, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying South Korea's first lunar orbiter, the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter known as Danuri, stands erect on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, the United States, on Aug. 4, 2022. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

The orbiter is currently on its way to the moon on a ballistic lunar transfer trajectory -- which takes the vehicle toward the sun before looping back to arrive at the moon's orbit in December. The route, while much longer than traveling directly toward the moon, allows more fuel efficiency as it uses the sun's gravity for travel.

According to the state-run Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), Danuri is scheduled to carry out a Trajectory Correction Maneuver (TCM) at around 2 p.m. on Friday, in which Danuri's direction, position and speed will be readjusted to head back toward the moon.

This photo, recently taken by a camera onboard South Korean lunar orbiter Danuri and provided by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute on Sept. 1, 2022, shows Earth. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)
This photo, recently taken by a camera onboard South Korean lunar orbiter Danuri and provided by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute on Sept. 1, 2022, shows the moon. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)
This photo, recently taken by a camera onboard South Korean lunar orbiter Danuri and provided by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute on Sept. 1, 2022, shows the moon (L) and Earth. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The maneuver will be carried out at the so-called Lagrange Point 1, approximately 1.36 million kilometers away from Earth where the gravitational pulls of the sun and Earth are at equilibrium.

The upcoming TCM is a major part of the overall Danuri mission, as it will determine whether the orbiter can loop back properly and head toward the moon as planned.

Cho Young-ho, head of the Danuri mission operations team at KARI, said the TCM will effectively serve as the "bridge role" in the orbiter's journey spanning from the Earth to the sun and then to the moon. Engineers will be able to verify its success 48 hours later.

KARI also released deep space photos of Earth and the moon taken to test the high definition camera onboard Danuri. Shootings were carried out when Danuri was 1.24 million kilometers and 1.3 million kilometers away from Earth, respectively, it said.

This graphic provided by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute shows the ballistic lunar transfer trajectory of South Korean lunar orbiter Danuri. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

odissy@yna.co.kr
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