SpaceX launches the first private moon lander on Israel's behalf

23 February, 2019, 05:54 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • Israeli Spacecraft Aims To Make History By Landing On Moon

Once it arrives, Beresheet will be Israel's first spacecraft and the world's first privately-funded spacecraft to reach the moon. An Israeli spacecraft blasted off to the moon in an attempt to make the country’s first lunar landing, following a launch Thursday night by SpaceX. It will be the first such space capsule to land on the moon on a private initiative rather than on a government-funded enterprise. Eastern, deploying the Beresheet lunar lander 33 minutes later, and the Nusantara Satu telecom satellite with the S5 experimental smallsat almost 45 minutes after liftoff. According to SpaceX, Falcon 9 B1048's third successful launch and landing faced the Block 5 booster with "some of the most challenging reentry conditions to date".

Should it successfully land, Israel will join an elite company of nations who have put landers on the moon, the United States, the former Soviet Union, and the Peoples Republic of China.

SpaceIL officials have said they hope Beresheet will help inspire Israel's defense-focused space program to pursue more science-oriented missions.

The Nasantara Satu mission lifts off from Cape Canaveral on February 21, 2019, carrying SpaceIL's lunar lander bound for the moon.

Nusantara Satru and S5 will head to geosynchronous orbit before parting ways, while Beresheet conducts a series of phasing loops to raise its orbit until the spacecraft is captured by lunar gravity.

The Israeli spacecraft was launched using Elon Musk's SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket together with USA and Indonesian satellites.

These were "hard landings", meaning the craft crashed into the moon.

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Winetraub pointed out that the moon and the earth had to be in sync before the rocket could launch, adding, "The moon is coming around, and we're doing our own orbit, and we need to synchronize everything".

About 30 minutes after liftoff, the spacecraft will disengage from the SpaceX Falcon 9 at around 60,000 kilometers above Earth's surface, beginning, under its own power, a two-month voyage to the Moon's surface.

Watch the mission unfold live here.

Once ejected from its vehicle, the spacecraft robot will then use its British-built engine to propel itself to the moon.

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

But it will have just enough time to carry out its primary objectives: plant an Israeli flag on the moon, measure the moon's magnetic field, study surrounding lunar craters, and of course, take some epic lunar selfies. This is what makes NASA's offer to track the spacecraft with its Deep Space Network and lunar orbiters so valuable.

Under the original terms of the Google Lunar X Prize contest, Beresheet would have been required to fire thrusters and hop to a new location at least 500 meters away from the landing site.

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