South Korea's first lunar orbiter launched by SpaceX

South Korea's first lunar orbiter successfully launched on a year-long mission to observe the Moon, Seoul said Friday, with the payload including a new disruption-tolerant network for sending data from space.

Danuri -- a portmanteau of the Korean words for "Moon" and "enjoy" -- was on a Falcon 9 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida by Elon Musk's aerospace company SpaceX. It aims to reach the Moon by mid-December.

"South Korea's first lunar orbiter 'Danuri' left for space at 8:08 am on August 5, 2022," Seoul's science ministry said in a tweet, sharing a video of the rocket blasting off trailing a huge column of smoke and flames.

Danuri "successfully entered orbit towards the moon", Seoul's vice science minister Oh Tae-seok told reporters later Friday, saying that researchers were already communicating with Danuri through NASA's deep-space antenna in Canberra, Australia.

"Analysis of the received satellite information confirmed that Danuri's solar panel was properly unfolded to start power generation," he said, adding everything appeared to be going smoothly.