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A live broadcast of the launch from South Korea on Friday morning showed the orbiter “Danuri” – which means “enjoy the moon” – successfully separated From a Falcon 9 rocket.

Developed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), the 678-kilogram (about 1,500-pound) vehicle has six payloads, including Korean-made equipment.

It is expected to enter lunar orbit in December and then begin a year-long observation mission to find possible landing sites for future missions, conduct scientific research on the lunar environment and test space internet technology, the South Korean Ministry of Science and ICT said. a statement.

If successful, South Korea will become the seventh largest lunar explorer in the world and the fourth largest in Asia, after China, Japan and India.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying South Korea's first lunar orbiter.

Friday’s launch comes as South Korea accelerates its burgeoning space program and seeks to send probes to the moon by 2030.

In June, the country successfully launched a satellite into orbit with its domestic Nuri rocket, a major step in its space program.

Space launches have long been a sensitive issue on the Korean peninsula, which faces international sanctions over its nuclear-armed ballistic missile program.

In March, North Korea called for the expansion of its space rocket launch site to advance its space ambitions after South Korea and the United States accused it of testing a new intercontinental ballistic missile under the guise of launching a space vehicle.

South Korea says its space program is for peaceful and scientific purposes and that any military use of the technology, such as spy satellites, is for defense.

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