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Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO)



The Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) is South Korea's first lunar mission. It is developed and managed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) and is scheduled to launch in July 2022 to orbit the Moon for 1 year carrying an array of South Korean experiments and one U.S. built instrument. The objectives are to develop indigenous lunar exploration technologies, demonstrate a "space internet", and conduct scientific investigations of the lunar environment, topography, and resources, as well as identify potential landing sites for future missions.

Spacecraft and Subsystems

The spacecraft has a cubic shape with two solar panel wings and a parabolic antenna mounted on a boom. The total mass is 550 kg. Communications are via S-band (telemetry and command) and X-band (payload data downlink). Power (760 W at 28 V) is provided through the solar panel arrays and rechargeable batteries. A monopropulsion system is used, with four 30N orbital maneuver thrusters and four 5N attitude control thrusters. KPLO is equipped with five science instruments and a Disruption Tolerant Network experiment. The five experiments are a Lunar Terrain Imager (LUTI), a Wide-Angle Polarimetric Camera (PolCam), a Magnetometer (KMAG), a Gamma-Ray Spectrometer (KGRS), and a high-sensitivity camera developed by NASA (ShadowCam). Total scientific payload mass is about 40 kg.

Mission Profile

KPLO is scheduled to launch in August 2022 from Cape Canaveral on a SpaceX Falcon 9 Block 5 booster into a 300 km Earth orbit, followed by a translunar injection burn and a lunar transfer phase, bringing it to the Moon in mid-December. After capture into an elliptical lunar orbit, it will circularize to a 100 km nominal polar orbit (+-30 km), from which it will conduct science operations for approximately one year. If the mission has an extended phase, it will descend to a 70 km orbit or lower.

Spacecraft image credit: Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI)

Alternate Names

    Facts in Brief

    Launch Date: 
    Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
    Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States
    Mass: 550 kg
    Nominal Power: 760 W

    Funding Agency

    • Korea Aerospace Research Institute (South Korea)


    • Planetary Science

    Additional Information

    Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Dr. David R. Williams



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