South Korea Moon Landing Scheduled for 2020
During its 26 year history, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute has sent a handful of satellites to Earth orbit.
They have also sent an astronaut, Yi So-yeon, to the International Space Station. Like most NASA astronauts these days, he went aboard a Russian Soyuz.
They even announced plans to land a probe on the surface of the moon in the 2020 - 2025 timeframe way back in 2007.
Clearly, South Korea has ambitious plans in space.
And now, they have committed funding to those plans and are quickly preparing to go beyond low Earth orbit to begin a South Korean Moon Program of their own.
According to the Yonhap News agency, the country's Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, the plan is to launch a lunar exploration project this year, 2016, with a 2020 timeframe of landing a vehicle on the surface.
The project's first 2016-2018 stage envisions sending an orbiter to the moon, followed by a landing vessel with an independently developed launch vehicle under the second phase.
Additionally, the ministry plans to develop an orbiter and a ground station independently using domestic technologies while also cooperating with foreign space agencies, including NASA, to develop payloads.
Overall, the ministry has earmarked $169 million for the project, $17 million of which is slated for 2016.