대메뉴 바로가기 본문 바로가기
The lunar exploration competition has begun, and it’s unprecedented in scope.Ever since mankind’s first Moon landing with Apollo 11 in 1969, once again, the U.S. is pushing ahead with the Artemis program, a manned Moon landing program. Developed countries or regions in aerospace such as the EU, China, Japan, and India as well as private start-ups are engaged in space exploration such as lunar exploration in the New Space era marked by a challenging mindset, innovation, and new opportunities as of late. Developed countries in aerospace are recognizing the Moon as an area of undeveloped and unlimited potential, unlike the lunar exploration of the past, and are in the process of being at the forefront of space development through lunar exploration. Developed countries in aerospace are transitioning their space development sights from a focus on Earth to the Moon and Mars based on developed space technologies, and are securing more advanced space technologies through space exploration. The U.S. has held its status as a leading country in space development through space exploration and maintains a strong interest in the field of science, national security, and economy. Our regional neighbors such as Japan, China, and India are also actively progressing forward in the exploration of the Moon, comets, and Mars. Through lunar exploration, they are seeking the development of high-tech space technologies such as flight and control technology to the Moon, technology to enter lunar orbit, Moon-landing technology, sample-collection and return-to-Earth technology, lunar exploration rover operation in an extreme space environment, nuclear batteries, and space Internet. Meanwhile, they are even anticipating space industrialization to accelerate and creation of new jobs. The reason why the world’s sights are on the Moon once again is that they can secure natural resources from the Moon along with the possibility of utilizing the satellite as a stopover site for the deep space exploration of Mars, etc. With manned and unmanned explorations, the presence of rare resources like water, Helium 3(He3), Uranium, and rare earth elements on the Moon have been confirmed. As of now, the only countries which have succeeded in unmanned lunar landings are the U.S., the former Soviet Union, and China, and the six countries or region which have succeeded in lunar orbiter exploration include Japan, China, India, the EU & U.S. and the former Soviet Union. Thus, if we do not commence space exploration ourselves, we would lag further behind in space development with other countries.
Major Status related to Overseas Lunar Exploration
|Country||Year & Name||Mission||Country||Year & Name||Mission|
|(Former) Soviet Union||
|Europe||▶ 2004 Smart-1||Orbiter (crashed into lunar surface in 2006)|
|India||▶ 2008 Chandrayaan 1||Orbiter|
Heading to the Moon in August 2022A test lunar orbiter (KPLO, Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter), the first Korean lunar probe, is an unmanned lunar probe expected to carry out the mission of lunar observation while flying at an altitude of 100km over the Moon. This project taking place under a cooperative system in which the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) oversees the system, main body of the orbiter, and ground station; and Korean universities and research institutes, and NASA support the payloads, deep space communication, and navigation technology. The test lunar orbiter (KPLO) consists of the main body with a width, length, and height of 1.82m, 2.14m, and 2.29m, respectively, and six payloads. The major project details of the test lunar orbiter involve the development of the main body and payloads of the test lunar orbiter, construction of a deep-space ground station, phase 2 preceding research, and international collaboration with NASA. The project is carried out with the cooperative system in which KARI oversees the system, main body, and ground station with the participation of 6 major Korean research institutes and NASA of the U.S.. It will be equipped with NASA payloads and carry out missions such as orbiter tracking, communication support, deep-space navigation service support, etc.
Technologies needed for Moon & deep-space exploration securedThe lunar orbit exploration through a test lunar orbiter (KPLO, Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter) requires space probe design and production technology to endure missions in an extreme lunar environment, navigation, and control technology for a precise flight to the Moon, and lunar orbit entry technology. KARI aims to secure deep-space communication technologies such as establishing a large deep-space antenna capable of tracking and communicating with the orbiter to overcome signal sensitivity deterioration due to the distance between the Earth and Moon; technology for developing an orbiter applying a light-weight design, large capacity propulsion system technology; and technology for navigation to the Moon. NASA of the U.S. is supporting deep-space communication and navigation technology. KARI has achieved weight reduction (from over 80 to 50kg) of electronic units including the onboard computer, power controller, power distributor, mounted data processor, and harness of the test lunar orbiter by applying a lightweight design and has reduced the power consumption (110W→ 65W) of the signal/power distribution system. The institute has also localized the 30N class (4 units) large-capacity high-thrust propulsion system needed for entry into lunar orbit. This contrasts with the existing satellite altitude control thruster which was 5N class. Furthermore, KARI is developing a large antenna (35m) system for increasing the communication range to the Moon, which includes high-powered transmission for deep-space communication, high-gain antenna, low noise receiver, etc.
Technologies required for Lunar Orbit Exploration
Six payloads developed by Korean research institutes & NASAThe test lunar orbiter (KPLO) will carry a total of 6 payloads. The orbiter will contain 5 payloads developed by Korean universities and research institutes including KARI and 1 payload from NASA. Korean universities and research institutes are developing a high-resolution camera for exploring the proposed landing site for lunar landing module, a polarized camera to analyze the lunar surface particles and spacecraft’s effect, and a lunar magnetic field-measuring instrument to measure the magnetic field intensity around the Moon for studying the cause and process of Moon formation. The Korea Institute of Geoscience & Mineral Resources, which will measure the gamma-ray spectrum for resource exploration of the lunar surface, has been developing a gamma-ray spectrometer for identifying the elements constituting the lunar surface and its distribution pattern, while KARI is developing a 5m-grade high-resolution camera filming the proposed landing site for the Korean lunar probe.
Going to the Moon with BLT/WSB methodThe orbit for going to the Moon broadly consists of Direct Transfer, 3.5 Phasing Loop Transfer, BLT (Ballastic Lunar Transfer), etc. The Direct Transfer method previously used by the Apollo program requires time within about 5 days. It directly arrives on the Moon after its launch from Earth. The 3.5 Phasing Loop Transfer used by India’s Chandrayaan program is a method of entering lunar orbit after revolving several times around the Earth in a long elliptical orbit. BLT/WSB method entails flying to the L1 Lagrangian point between the Earth and Sun, which was designed to minimize the space probe’s fuel consumption.
Developed by exclusive Korean technology through the know-how of operating satellitesIn the initial operation of the test lunar orbiter (KPLO), 24-hour communication is made possible with 4 overseas ground stations in Italy, Australia, Chile, and Hawaii via SSC (Swedish Space Corporation)’s network operation center (Esrange). The remote operation with network operation centers of overseas ground stations is performed at KARI’s satellite operation center. After launch and initial operation of the test lunar orbiter (KPLO), the Korean ground station will be operated starting from in-orbit testing (2 weeks after launch). The ground system of the test lunar orbiter (KPLO) will be developed through technologies and expert human resources acquired from operating low orbit satellites. The ground system consists of the transmission/reception subsystem in charge of communication between the satellite & ground and reception & broadcasting of images; real-time operation subsystem for satellite operation and control; control system such as the mission planning subsystem and aerodynamic subsystem; data pretreatment system for real-time reception, processing and distribution of payload images; and integrated monitoring subsystem of the entire ground system.