South Korea has launched a lunar probe for the first time in the country's history, German press agency (dpa) reported.

A SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket, which is carrying the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO), lifted off at 2308 GMT on Thursday from Florida's Cape Canaveral as scheduled.

The 678-kilogramme spacecraft, with a planned minimum operating life of one year, will orbit the moon and collect data on its surface. It contains six different instruments to conduct surveys for water and other elements.

The KPLO is a collaboration between the state-run Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) and other institutes in South Korea as well as US space agency NASA.

South Korea is working to advance an ambitious space programme. In June, it successfully launched satellites for civilian use into Earth orbit for the first time using a domestically-built launch vehicle. The country is also a signatory to NASA's Artemis lunar exploration programme.


WAM/Rola Alghoul/Esraa Ismail