Israel flying to moon aboard Elon Musk's SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket

24 February, 2019, 18:16 | Author: Sherry Houston
  • Jewish Telegraphic Agency

The privately funded lunar lander, which is about the size of a washing machine, was developed by the SpaceIL non-profit organization in cooperation with Israel Aerospace Industries for the low-budget cost of $100 million.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket booster made "a rather spicy landing" on a drone ship on Thursday night after launching a trio of lunar craft into space, a SpaceX engineer said.

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.

"Upon deployment, it will travel to the moon using its own power, a voyage that will take almost two months".

The forty-day voyage culminates with a landing scheduled for April 11.

The 180kg lander, called Beresheet, launched on a SpaceX Falcoln 9 rocket from Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

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SpaceIL said it hoped Beresheet would help inspire Israel's defence-focused space program to pursue more science missions by way of an "Apollo effect", referring to the manned lunar exploration program that became NASA's chief objective in the 1960s and early '70s.

Nasa's Apollo missions in the 1960s and 1970s took about three days to get astronauts to the moon, but they used monstrous Saturn V rockets. It would also become the first private enterprise to make a controlled landing on the moon, with the smallest spacecraft to do it, and by far the least expensive mission.

The rocket's two other payloads were a telecommunications satellite for Indonesia and an experimental satellite for the US Air Force.

The 585-kilogram Beresheet, which means "Genesis" in Hebrew, lifted off at 8:45 pm (0145 GMT Friday) atop a Falcon 9 rocket from the private US-based SpaceX company of entrepreneur Elon Musk. The spacecraft also has a scientific mission: to measure the moon's magnetic field as part of an experiment carried out in collaboration with the Weizmann Institute.

"Congratulations to SpaceIL and the Israel Space Agency", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in an agency press release. The contest closed without a victor, but SpaceIL chose to continue and get funding from elsewhere. December took place the first television broadcast from lunar orbit, the estimated 500 to 600 million viewers in front of their devices were watching. It aims to put a craft with a rover onto the Moon's surface to collect data.

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