SEOUL, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- South Korea launched its first lunar orbiter, carried by a U.S. rocket, the science ministry said Friday.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which carried the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter, also called Danuri, lifted off at about 8:08 a.m. Korean time (2308 GMT) from Cape Canaveral in the United States, according to the Ministry of Science and ICT.
The lunar orbiter was released from the rocket around 40 minutes after the liftoff at an altitude of about 1,656 km and traveled on a pre-programmed trajectory.
It made the first communications with the ground control station at about 9:40 a.m. Korean time (0040 GMT).
The ministry announced that Danuri successfully entered the ballistic lunar transfer trajectory toward the moon.
It was forecast to take almost five months for the orbiter to reach the moon in order to conduct the country's first space mission beyond the Earth's orbit.