South Korea has launched a lunar orbiter that will scout out future landing spots.
The satellite launched by SpaceX is taking a long, roundabout path to conserve fuel and will arrive back in December.
If successful, it will join spacecraft from the U.S. and India already operating around the moon, and a Chinese rover exploring the moon’s far side.
India, Russia and Japan have new moon missions launching later this year or next, as do a slew of private companies in the U.S. and elsewhere. And NASA is next up with the debut of its mega moon rocket in late August.
South Korea’s $180 million mission — the country’s first step in lunar exploration — features a boxy, solar-powered satellite designed to skim just 62 miles (100 kilometers) above the lunar surface. Scientists expect to collect geologic and other data for at least a year from this low polar orbit.
It is South Korea’s second shot at space in six weeks.