Israel set to join elite lunar club with first mission to moon

22 February, 2019, 11:15 | Author: Sherry Houston
  • An artistic image of SpaceIL's Beresheet lander on the moon's surface

The lander, named Beresheet (meaning "in the beginning" in Hebrew), was built by the Israeli nonprofit organization SpaceIL, which began working on this mission in 2011 as a contestant in the Google Lunar X Prize. Previously, only the U.S., U.S.S.R, and China have landed spacecraft on the moon.

"We have a vision to show off Israel's best qualities to the entire world", Sylvan Adams, a SpaceIL donor and Canadian-Israeli philanthropist, said during a pre-launch briefing in Orlando, Florida, on Wednesday (Feb. 20). NASA's Surveyor 1 spacecraft touched down on the lunar surface later that year.

SpaceX hopes to launch the first privately developed lunar lander toward the moon on Thursday night, using a towering Falcon 9 rocket.

When Beresheet approaches the lunar surface, it will aim to touch down in a region called Mare Serenitatis, meaning "Sea of Tranquility". "We can't afford a full we basically do a ride share", Winetraub said.

"We actually can put science experiments aboard the space craft".

Also known as PSN-6, Nusantara Satu is a geostationary communications satellite built by the California-based aerospace company SSL for Pasifik Satelit Nusantara, Indonesia's first private telecommunications company.

Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin quickly offered congratulations following Thursday's launch.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine congratulated the Israeli team for carrying out the mission, saying, "this is a historic step for all nations and commercial space as we look to extend our collaborations beyond low-Earth orbit and on to the Moon". Data will be relayed via the USA space agency NASA's Deep Space Network to SpaceIL's Israel-based ground station Yehud.

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"All the best to (at) TeamSpaceIL as it starts its journey tonight on a (at) SpaceX (hash) Falcon9 from Florida to my old stomping ground.the moon", Aldrin tweeted.

The initial project was conceived in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition to successfully land an unmanned probe on the Moon, which was eventually discontinued before a victor was declared since no competitors were able to complete their projects by the March 31, 2018, deadline. The organisers made a decision to press ahead on their own, with donations from billionaires as well as schoolchildren.

Beresheet will also collect pictures and video while in space, during its descent and while it's on the moon, and it needs those two days to send all the data home to Earth.

Beresheet carries a "time capsule" loaded with digital files containing a Bible, children's drawings, Israeli songs, memories of a Holocaust survivor and the blue-and-white Israeli flag.

Ramon's widow, Rona, was a big supporter of Beresheet; she died of cancer in December.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted after the landing that the booster survived the "Highest reentry heating to date".

For this launch, SpaceX plans to reuse a rocket booster that's already flown twice.

The booster from this mission is scheduled to be redeployed in April. No one will be aboard.



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