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Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO)

NSSDCA ID: KPLO
COSPAR ID: 

Description

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 launched on 4 August 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 launched on 4 August 2022 at 23:08 UT 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 lunar orbit on 16 December 2022. 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: 2022-08-04
    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)

    Discipline

    • Planetary Science

    Additional Information

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

     

    Personnel

    NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
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