Issue No. 180

The Orbital Index

Issue No. 180 | Aug 10, 2022

🚀 🌍 🛰

The Danuri orbiter heads to the Moon. KARI successfully launched the Korean Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO), named Danuri (a combination of the Korean words for “Moon” and “enjoy”), on a SpaceX Falcon 9 from the Kennedy Space Center last week. This is the first lunar mission for South Korea, which also plans to have a lunar lander and rover, delivered by a domestic launch vehicle, before 2030. (The first step on the launch vehicle front happened in June when their Nuri small launch vehicle reached orbit for the first time.) Danuri/KPLO has an extensive science agenda and carries five instruments—four developed domestically and one through a partnership with NASA. The craft’s load-out contains two cameras (a high-res camera at 2.5 meters/pixel and a wide-angle camera for polarimetry), a gamma-ray spectrometer, a magnetometer for measuring localized magnetic fields (and any potential they might have for providing some protection from radiation on the Lunar surface), and ShadowCam, an impressively high-sensitivity camera from NASA that can image the permanently shadowed portions of craters at 1.7 m/px by detecting ultra-low levels of diffusely scattered light. When it arrives at the Moon in December, KPLO will join LRO (launched in 2009, max spatial resolution of 50 cm/px), Chandrayaan-2 (launched 2019, 32 cm/px), Chang’e 5 (currently in distant retrograde lunar orbit), and CAPSTONE, as a fifth active spacecraft in lunar orbit. Like CAPSTONE, Danuri is using a long and slow ‘weak stability boundary ballistic lunar transfer trajectory’ to decrease mission delta-v requirements. Related: With this launch, Falcon 9 has launched on average every 6.3 days in 2022. 🤯

Danuri heads to the Moon.

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A simulation of the orbits of stars zipping around Sgr A* at the center of our galaxy.

Lots of Launch.


News in brief. NASA updated their ISS private astronaut mission requirements to make it clear that any mission visiting the ISS must include at least one former NASA astronaut (as Ax-1 and Ax-2 do) Momentus’ struggling Vigoride satellite deployer, launched on May 25, has now deployed 6 customer satellites, with three still stuck on the vehicle (deployment efforts are ongoing) Chinese startup Yunyao Yuhang raised $14.8M for GNSS occultation and reflectometry weather satellites (and apparently earthquake forecasting?) ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-1B SAR satellite, which experienced an anomaly in Dec 2021, has been declared lost—Sentinel-1A is fully operational, and Sentinel-1C’s launch is being accelerated Not to be outdone by Toyota, Hyundai Motors is also working on a lunar rover SES and Intelsat are reportedly in talks to merge Xona Space Systems raised $15 million for a proposed LEO private GNSS constellation LiveEO, a Berlin-based geospatial data company, raised $19.6M from venture and governmental sources.




The Webb imagery just keeps coming. This NIRCam and MIRI composite image of the Cartwheel galaxy and its companions shows the result of a high-speed galactic collision.

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