Watch SpaceX Bring World's First Private Lunar Mission Into Space

22 February, 2019, 20:10 | Author: Sherry Houston
  • WATCH: Israeli Pride Swells as Moon Mission Successfully Lifts Off

The first Israeli lunar spacecraft Beresheet - Genesis in English - will be launched from the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 3:45 a.m. (Israel time) Friday.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying an Indonesian communications satellite, an Israeli lunar lander and a U.S. Air Force smallsat launched February 21 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Previously, only the U.S., U.S.S.R, and China have landed spacecraft on the moon.

As seen from the launch site, the distant glow of the returning booster rocket was visible in the sky just as the moon appeared over the horizon.

But, the spacecraft will take almost two months to reach the moon. In addition to Kahn, Dr Miriam Adelson, an Israeli-American doctor and philanthropist, and her husband, casino magnate and investor Sheldon Adelson, contributed $US24 million to keep the lunar lander soaring.

While the lander isn't its main payload - a communications satellite for Indonesia is - Israel's four-legged Beresheet is the world's first commercial lunar lander.

Beresheet, about the size of a dishwashing machine, was one of three sets of cargo carried aloft by the Falcon 9, part of the private rocket fleet of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's California-based company SpaceX. A company representative declined to comment on SpaceIL's mission ahead of launch, but noted that the "webcast will have more to say on the mission".

Falcon 9's first stage for the Nusantara Satu mission previously supported the Iridium-7 mission in July 2018 and the SAOCOM 1A mission in October 2018.

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Beresheet's first maneuver will take place about 9 hours after launch, when engineers will also check to make sure everything is working as expected. The 1,290-pound (585-kg) spacecraft was built by Israeli nonprofit space venture SpaceIL and state-owned defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) with $100 million furnished nearly entirely by private donors.

The rocket also contains an Indonesian satellite and a satellite of the US Air Force Research Laboratory.

Beresheet is created to spend just two to three days using on-board instruments to photograph its landing site and measure the moon's magnetic field. It will use the agency's deep space telecommunications network to beam data back to its ground team.

The total cost of one of its Falcon 9 launches is estimated to reach £44 million ($61m), while each of its larger Falcon Heavy flights costs £65 million ($90m).

Following liftoff, SpaceX recovered the first-stage booster, which flew twice past year.

It's the third time this booster has been launched and landed, and marks SpaceX's 34th successful landing.



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