March 24, 2019

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

24 February 2019, 06:11 | Edward Lowe

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

SpaceX - the Elon Musk-created firm - wants to make the first privately-built spacecraft to reach the moon.

Beresheet was developed by the Non-Profit organization SpaceIL, the cost in the amount of approximately Euro 84 million originate for the most part, from private funds from foundations and wealthy donors.

"Successful deployment of the SpaceIL lunar lander confirmed, starting the spacecraft's two-month voyage to the Moon", SpaceX confirmed on Twitter, some 35 minutes after liftoff.

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The craft has been placed in Earth orbit, from where it will use its own engine to undertake a seven-week trip to reach the Moon; the Moon landing is scheduled for seven weeks' time, on April 11.

To save on fuel, the spacecraft is taking a more convoluted route to the Moon than usual. The Beresheet was launched for Israel and if successful will make Israel the fourth country to land on the moon.

The rocket was returning from a mission to launch a trio of lunar craft into space, including a $100 million Israeli moon lander from SpaceIL the first private mission to the moon.

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The primary payload aboard the Falcon 9 rocket was an Indonesian communications satellite known as Nusantara Satu and operated by Pasifik Satelit Nusantara. Space Systems Loral took on that responsibility, signing up rideshare broker Spaceflight Inc. of Seattle, Washington, which then secured Israel's 600-kilogram Beresheet lander and the Air Force Research laboratory's 60-kilogram S5 smallsat. Once this is complete, it will head for the Moon and it will orbit it too several times before landing in the Mare Serenitatis region in the Moon's northern hemisphere. So far only superpowers - the Soviet Union, U.S. and China - have made the voyage, with their governments' strong financial backing.

During its descent, the spacecraft will measure the Moon's magnetic field, potentially revealing new details about iron core deep below, reports The New York Times. The company is competing with Boeing Co to be the first to ferry American astronauts to the International Space Station as part of NASAs Commercial Crew program.

The competition was canceled in January 2018 when none of the five teams left in the competition was able to meet the March deadline for a launch. President Reuven Rivlin hosted a pajama party with schoolchildren, hoping the lunar mission will galvanize science education in Israel the way the Apollo space program did in the US decades earlier. The data may provide information about the moon's iron core.

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