Kids in South Korea and a Moon mission

South Korea is about to have its Chandrayaan 1 moment.

South Korea is less than a year away from launching its first Moon mission. I wrote details of the mission for The Planetary Society. It reminded me of Chandrayaan 1, India’s first Moon mission, in technical as well as inspirational ways.

Both space missions are first of their kind for each country, are lunar orbiters, and have significant contributions from NASA. Both missions were conceptualized and realized after each country gained experience making satellites for geostationary orbits, a necessary precursor. But it’s the inspirational element that’s perhaps more striking.

Chandrayaan 1 launched over a decade ago in 2008. I was in school then, just 14, and remember following newspapers who were reporting that India is foraying into planetary exploration. Now, I always liked to read about NASA’s planetary missions but this felt different. My own country was sending a spacecraft to the Moon! I’m no nationalist but this was more about being able to relate better. It’s also the first time that I saw people around me take interest in space. Because it was an Indian mission, they felt included.

And then as the mission launched and progressed, I remember reading about Chandrayaan 1’s discovery of water on the Moon, and other such things trickling through. It really inspired me. Over a decade later I’m in the profession of writing about space exploration and as part of it, I uniquely cover Indian space science missions, including Chandrayaan 2. Likewise, I know many people who pursued STEM interests in technical and non-technical ways—both equally important jobs—because of the impact India’s space missions had on them growing up.

When South Korea’s first Moon mission launches and shows us great new views of our cosmic neighbor thanks to its incredible instruments, I hope it will have much the same effect on people, kids and students in South Korea.

Space inspires, and lets us aspire to do things beyond the clouds. And the more countries that can have that effect felt nationwide, the better.