March 24, 2019

Israel's first moon mission lifts off from Cape Canaveral

22 February 2019, 11:17 | Edward Lowe

"The superpowers who managed to land a spacecraft on the Moon have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in government funding", IAI said in an earlier statement.

Also piggybacking on the flight will be a US Air Force experiment called Air Force Research Laboratory S5 - a microsatellite that's created to detect objects that orbit Earth near a region called geostationary orbit (which is about 22,300 miles away from the planet's surface).

So far, only Russian Federation, the United States and China have made the 384,000-kilometer (239,000-mile) journey and landed spacecraft on the Moon.

It'll take the craft seven weeks to reach the moon.

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"For many months, our teams and IAI's were engaged in testing the spacecraft and its systems, conducting complex experiments and preparing for every possible scenario of the mission", CEO of SpaceIL Ido Antebi said.

Visit The Planetary Society's Beresheet mission page for information won't find anywhere else.

Beresheet was jettisoned into Earth orbit about 34 minutes after launch, followed 15 minutes later by the release of the two satellites, according to a SpaceX webcast of the event. 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.

SpaceX's 23-story Falcon 9 rocket should launch sometime between 8:45 p.m. and 9:17 p.m. EST tonight. If Beresheet successfully executes a soft landing on the lunar surface, Israel will become the fourth nation to achieve such a landing on the moon, following in the footsteps of the world's "space superpowers" - the United States, Russia and China.

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But as the competition wore on, it became apparent that none of the companies were going to be able to meet the deadline to land on the moon, and so Google ultimately scrapped the competition in March 2018.

SpaceX plans to stream live footage of the launch via YouTube, and you can watch the company's broadcast using the embedded video player below. Previously, only the U.S., U.S.S.R, and China have landed spacecraft on the moon. NASA's Surveyor 1 spacecraft touched down on the lunar surface later that year. Mounted on the spacecraft is a laser retroreflector, a mirroring device that requires no power and can be used for space-to-ground communications via NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN).

SpaceX recovered a payload fairing for the first time in 2017.

Stored inside is a totem to the nation: a time capsule in the form of three disks containing Israeli artefacts such as its Proclamation of Independence, national songs and drawings by Israeli children. The reuse of boosters is part of SpaceX's plan to make spaceflight cheaper. The main payload is an Indonesian communications satellite called "Nusantara Satu" (also called PSN 6).

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Previous missions have reached the moon much faster.

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