Made in Korea: Lunar Lander Unveiled

Everybody wants to go to the moon! Scientists from Korea recently unveiled a spacecraft developed completely in-house that could potentially be used for robotic exploration of the Moon. The mini-sized lander, shown above is about 40 centimeters tall (15.5 inches) and weighs 25 kilograms (55lbs). Scientists say it carry an additional 20 kilograms in payloads to the surface. Every part of the rocket engine was “homemade,” said Kwon Se-jin, a professor of aerospace engineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). The lander, the result of a six year long effort, represents an advancement in technology, and an important step for Korea’s nascent space program.

The rocket’s propulsion includes a state-of-the-art propulsion and the engine’s design allows it to be powered by environmentally friendly fuel. Also, the Korean team was proud of the low costs associated with their new lander.

According to Kwon, lunar modules between the 100 and 200 kilogram range, developed by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) under the International Lunar Network (ILN) project costs around $100 million. The rocket engine created by his team could cut development costs to about half that, Kwon claimed.

“We have approached NASA over the possibilities of using our engine,” Kwon said, adding that his team is collaborating with other local scientists with the goal of landing a spacecraft on the moon by 2013.

“Lunar-landers are critical in developing lunar spacecraft, but advanced nations have been careful to protect their core technologies, so I think this is a big deal for us,” he said.

South Korea has been pushing an aggressive space program over the past decade, and objectives include having a man on the moon by 2020.

Korea’s current plans are to launch an Earth-orbiting satellite in early 2009 from a newly built spaceport. If successfully, Korea would become the ninth country to launch a satellite from its own soil.

But the Koreans also want to become part of an international space research project, the ILN, a project aiming to gradually place six to eight fixed or mobile science stations on the lunar surface. The stations will form a robotic network to replace the hardware left by the Apollo program to continue studies of the moon’s surface and interior.

Source: Korea Times

31 Replies to “Made in Korea: Lunar Lander Unveiled”

  1. And where exactly is that newly built South Korean spaceport? Do they have a self-manifestation on the Internet?

  2. Completely in house?

    ” advanced nations have been careful to protect their core technologies, so I think this is a big deal for us,” –Kwon

    What about that MADE IN USA SpaceDev propellant tank?

  3. I’ve actually been inside the prototype that inflates, the one at NASA LaRC. It’s small, as in kitchen pantry small.

  4. Yes, fair dues to Korea for this attempt.

    I would think they ‘d be better off joining with NASA and others rather than go it alone — re: their 2020 manned mission (very optimistic) to the Moon.

    China, India and others are also putting forward this optimistic year, too, but from what we know of Korea’s technologic developments in the lunar research area, I’m thinking this is an area that has to be disclosed more to te public if we are to believe in what they are saying.

    John —
    (A detailed poster on important aspects about the Moon + Free poster offer now)

  5. “The NARO space center, started as part of a national space development program, is now beginning to take shape on Oenaro island at the southwestern part of the Korean Peninsula.”

  6. buster, even if that lander “looks like a joke” in your opinion, it is by far more than the German aerospace research can offer for to go to the moon by now.

  7. Stunning achievement, this is probably one of the most important recent breakthroughs. Cost is what holds us back at the moment. Every $ saved brings us closer to our goal. And they offer to share the tech with NASA!

    Looks are irrelevant.

  8. If you look at the history of the colonisation of the United States, you will find that the government built the first Forts in the wilderness but the real pioneers were those that camped outside and bypassed the formalities. This is a classic example of the same process. The small, totally insignificant professor is showing how to do the same thing NASA does, but at a totally insignificant cost. But the cost is not insignificant, indeed it is the forerunner of many that will follow and open up space to the rest of us. On the Cheap, yes, but no less successfully for all that.

    I for one salute them.

  9. “Scientists say it carry an additional 20 kilograms in payloads to the surface.” A quote from one of the Koreans? Change carry to “carries” or “can carry”

    “The rocket’s propulsion includes a state-of-the-art propulsion and “………..huh? OK, the wife’s RLS didn’t allow me much sleep and I’m feeling extra critical this AM. Sorry.

  10. Is’t it amazing what one can build when you find you don’t need to buy a $200.00 dollar left handed claw hammer? Yes, cut a few of those out of your budget, and you’ll be flabber-gasted at what you can achieve. N.A.S.A. is only interested in lineing their pockets, it’s the back yard rocket hobbiest that is interested in obtaining achievements and results. Just think about exo-planet hunters, their back yard peep’ers were the first to find them, then the big glasses started looking for them. back in the early 19th century, 2 boys with bike parts and a couple of lawn mower engines built the first planes. Then afterwards, the big companies began to join in on the airplane scean. Heck, once there was a ding-a-ling that put a lawn mower motor on 4 wheels and he called it a horseless carrage. now look, we got cars all over the place. hee hee hee. Once, a guy tied a jumbo rag to his little boat and found america. Another flew a kite in a storm, got zapped and ushered in a new era of electricity. Who knows? This guy my be the next one to usher in a new kind of lunar lander engines we can use next.

  11. I agree absolutely with dollhopf about our space effort in Britain. We had the beginnings of a really adventurous programme but, and you really won’t believe this, but as a rocket at the start of the programme was being fired the government cancelled it!!! 1971 I think it was. The tiny satellite it launched is still out there and can be heard beep-beep-beeping. It was a shameful act by our government. All we could muster was Beagle 2 and that was a triumph of a guy in a garage over thick-headed ministers. A rather pathetic really.

  12. I love what the guy said ” koreans sent meth lab to moon” hahaha…. big deal. It is easy to land something on the moon, low gravity and no messy atmosphere for re entry. So one could say look I am better than nasa I built this cheap POS for a fraction. There as many America bashers inside america as outside.

  13. “So one could say look I am better than nasa I built this cheap POS for a fraction. There as many America bashers inside america as outside.” Yes, sure.

    And there is nevertheless always a possibility for America-admiration inside and outside. But also, here and now is nevertheless a commitment: expand the boundaries! Bring us forward!

    The United States are the/our leader of the Western societies and of all others which agree. The Republik of Korea is well known to the world as an emerging country. We all do appreciate the efforts of the Korean people. WE LIKE THEM! And we wish them success in their efforts to bring their country to the top! (Sure we can if we are born in the USA.)

    By the way, I guess that this Korean lunar lander is nothing more then a test device. What I see is a breadboard construction. There is nothing silly on that. Therefore, as soon as the device needs to be adapted to the end this lander will look really in step with actual practice.

  14. I think a lot of the recent NASA bashing [over the last 15 years or so] is down to the fact that tremendous sums of money has been directed wrongly. The unmanned craft, with a few exceptions, have produced fantastic results while the manned programme has done very little. The fiasco of the space station – an orbiting greenhouse/mini zoo – has swallowed more money than I can visualise when it ought to have been used as a staging post to the moon; the compromise of the shuttle fleet when the funds could have been better [?] used to develop a heavy lift rocket as a successor to the wonderful Saturn V. While the two examples above have been amazing engineering triumphs [well I think so!!] they haven’t really done much and in times of shrinking budgets they arean expensive luxury. We SHOULD have a manned programme but it needs better direction. Also the soome of the shennanigans that occasionally surface about NASA do nothing to endear it to the wider public. From the first triumphant days when anything and everything seemed possible at NASA we now hold our breath when a rocket or shuttle is launched. Still, from Britain, those of us who support the spaxce programmes we’re dead jealous.

  15. In reference to “Beagle 2 … was a triumph of a guy in a garage over thick-headed ministers. A rather pathetic really”

    Maybe Sir Richard Branson might have an interest in this job of the UK science minister?

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