South Korea Moon Program to Launch in 2016

South Korea Moon Landing Scheduled for 2020

South Korea Moon Program to launch in 2016

​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.

RELATED: Russia eliminates lunar exploration plans from current 10-year program​

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.

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