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SpaceX Rocket Launches First South Korean Moon Mission

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South Korea successfully launched its first home-developed lunar orbiter Friday, becoming the seventh country to join the already competitive race to send spacecrafts to the moon.

The Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter, developed by Korea Aerospace Research Institute, lifted off from Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 7:07 p.m.

local time and successfully separated from SpaceX's 549-ton Falcon 9 rocket around 45 minutes later, live broadcast of the launch showed.

Dubbed Danuri, which means moon and enjoy in Korean, the lunar orbiter successfully established communication with NASA's space center in Canberra 92 minutes after liftoff and successfully entered into planned trajectory. “It is a very significant milestone in the history of Korean space exploration,” Sang-Ryool Lee, president of KARI said in a pre-recorded video. “If we are more determined and committed to technology development for space travel, we will be able to reach Mars, asteroids, and so on in the near future.” It will travel for four and a half months before entering lunar orbit late December to begin its mission in January using six lunar payloads, vice science minister Oh Tae-Seog said in a briefing.

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