Israel's first lunar lander is on its way to the moon

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

During a mission slated to last just two to three days on the moon, Beresheet will use on board instruments to photograph the landing site on the Sea of Tranquility, SpaceIL vice-president Yigal Harel said. It would also mark the first time a private lander reached the moon.

The US Apollo program tallied six manned missions to the moon - the only ones yet achieved - between 1969 and 1972, with about a dozen more robotic landings combined by the Americans and Soviets.

Previous missions have reached the moon much faster.

This rideshare-style space exploration was orchestrated by Spaceflight Industries, a company dedicated to ensuring smaller satellites can afford to book rides to space.

SpaceIL's spacecraft set to land on the moon in April is about 5 feet tall with a diameter of 6.5 feet.

If the mission succeeds, it could unlock information the moon's iron core.

The Falcon 9 rocket lifting off with the Beresheet spacecraft on February 22, 2019, as seen on the command center screens in Yehud, Israel. "We have to consider the requirements from the other payloads ..." The engine fired again for a final two-minute burn, and after a five-minute coast, Beresheet was deployed successfully. "Make us proud", he said on Thursday.

Beresheet (Hebrew for "in the beginning") was put together by non-profit outfit SpaceIL to win the Google Lunar XPRIZE.

Bad weather threatened the recovery of the first-stage booster, but after 8-and-a-half minutes following launch, the booster successfully landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

First Beresheet will orbit the Earth for not quite two months.

At a cost of $100 million, "this is the lowest-budget spacecraft to ever undertake such a mission".

The Israeli team said glare from the sun on the spacecraft's sensors was making it more hard than expected for the spacecraft to orient itself according to the position of the stars as it prepared for its first orbit around the Earth, the first stage of its slow seven-week journey to the moon. It will then decrease its orbit until it finally lands on the northern lunar hemisphere sometime in April.

Upon landing, Beresheet should transmit data from the moon for about two days.

SpaceIL had planned to meet the 500-meter movement requirement by partially launching and relanding Beresheet. On Wednesday evening, SpaceIL officials said that they hadn't decided if they will attempt the risky hop or not and would decide based on how the lander performs in flight. It is also the first private rather than government effort with funds coming from private donors including Morris Kahn and Sheldon and Miriam Adelson. The problem with that is, it doesn't allow us to choose the orbit completely.

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