Watch again: Double launch day as ULA, SpaceX send rockets up from Florida's Space Coast

Florida's Space Coast was busy on Thursday with two rocket launches just hours apart. 

South Korea joined the stampede to the moon early Thursday evening with the launch of 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 in December.

Danuri — Korean for "enjoy the moon" — is carrying six science instruments, including a camera for NASA. It’s designed to peer into the permanently shadowed, ice-filled craters at the lunar poles. NASA favors the lunar south pole for future astronaut outposts because of evidence of frozen water. South Korea plans to land its own spacecraft on the moon — a robotic probe — by 2030 or so.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket carrying Danuri took off from Cape Canaveral close to sunset. The first-stage booster — making its sixth flight — landed on an ocean platform several minutes later for further recycling.

Earlier, United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully launched an Atlas V rocket on a mission for the U.S. Space Force. Space command says the satellite will support missile warnings and provide real-time information for the government. It will reportedly be able to detect and report missile launches around the world. 

Officials say this is the last spacecraft to find its home among five other satellites already in space. 

"Equipped with powerful scanning and staring infrared surveillance sensors to protect our nation 24/7, the SBIRS spacecraft continue to serve as the tip of the spear for global missile warning as ballistic missile threats proliferate around the world," according to the ULA website. "These infrared sensors, and others in a constellation of persistent overhead satellites, collect data that allow the U.S. military to detect missile launches, support ballistic missile defense, expand technical intelligence gathering and bolster situational awareness on the battlefield."

RELATED: Artemis 1 rocket launch: 100,000 people expected to watch launch at Kennedy Space Center; some hotels sold out

This was the 95th Atlas V rocket launch. The rocket lifted off at 6:29 a.m. ET from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. 


The Associated Press contributed to this report.