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Between 1959 and 1976, there were about 60 lunar missions launched by the US and the former Soviet Union. After Luna 24 in 1976, there have been only 7 missions flown so far. In 2004, the US announced the “Vision for Space Exploration” (VSE), which calls for space programs to the Moon and Mars. This seems to have initiated world-wide interests in lunar missions, and the EU, Japan, China and India have recently engaged in lunar missions. In 2008, space agencies of nine countries including Korea agreed on the state of intent for the International Lunar Network (ILN). It is thus the right time to plan scientific projects to be performed by future lunar missions.

Korean government recently established a plan for space exploration program aimed at securing fundamental space technology in space missions to the near-Earth bodies such as the Moon and Mars. As one of the main subjects in this governmental plan, the School of Space Research at Kyung Hee University (SSR/KHU) proposes to carry out the scientific studies near the lunar orbit in space, which is accepted as WCU Type 1 project (PI: Prof. Dong-Hun Lee).

The SSR has research goals on three objectives:
  I. Development of payloads onboard the satellites in collaboration with oversea institutions;
II. Investigations of effects of solar activities on interplanetary space surrounding the Moon;
III. Space plasma interactions among the solar wind, the Earth's magnetosphere, and the Moon.

Space exploration encompasses diverse scientific areas such as planetary astronomy, magnetospheric physics, celestial mechanics, rocket engineering, robotics, and life maintenance technology. By developing payloads and performing relevant practical research, both grown-up scientists and students will have a chance of looking into others’ fields and learning from them. This process will develop a more comprehensive view of the entire mission in individual participants.

The WCU project for SSR calls for international collaboration with researchers of world-leading laboratories, not merely because we lag behind in space technology, but because we wish to share their insights on promising future scientific tasks and their experiences in planning and performing space missions.

A number of world-wide leading oversea scientists are invited as regular faculty Members in SSR/KHU and perform collaborative research with Korean faculty members, postdocs and students:
Prof. Robert P. Lin, a professor in the Physics dept and the director of the Space Science Laboratory at UC Berkeley, has been a key person in numerous space missions in the past 40 years.
Prof. S. K. Solanki is the executive director of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research and PI of the SUNRISE project and other space mission instruments.
Prof. D. Summers is a specialist in wave-particle interactions in space plasmas and pioneered a theory in high energy electron generation in the magnetosphere.
Prof. Peter H. Yoon is a specialist in the microscopic phenomena in space plasma Studies, in particular, in the Earth’s magnetosphere.

They will teach and advise students and get them involved in the proposed study so that they may acquire relevant knowledge and techniques. Korean students will also have opportunities in co-working with expertise at the oversea institutions through the arrangement of visiting schedules planned by our foreign faculty members.

While anticipating a new space era, no Korean educational institutions are truly prepared for producing the manpower that the upcoming space missions demand. Our WCU project calls for active participation of students. The SSR/KHU will naturally bring up the man power that will lead the Korean space exploration into its blooming era, late 2010's and 2020's.