SpaceX Is Launching Israel's First Mission to the Moon Tonight

Cristina Cross
February 24, 2019

One can also view the flight via a live webcast on Facebook, broadcasting a live stream from the Israeli Aerospace Industries center in Yehud. Beresheet and PSN-6 will now take opposite paths forward, with the lunar lander raising its orbit quite literally to the Moon while PSN-6 drops its high end down and circularizes at approximately 35,800 km (22,250 mi) above Earth.

It will circle Earth in ever bigger loops until it's captured by lunar gravity and goes into orbit around the moon.

The robotic lander is the brainchild of SpaceIL, an Israeli non-profit and Google Lunar X Prize finalist.

"By what we're doing and achieving with the limited resources that we have, and the limited finances we had - I think we showed the Israeli ingenuity", said Kahn. It's a first not just for Israel but for commercial space. The first soft landing on the moon came in 1966; executed by both the both Russian Federation and the United States; there was not another unmanned soft landing until China launched Chang'e 3 in 2013.

Missions as complex as a moon landing have previously been the purview of only large and well-funded space agencies, but the growth of the private space industry and the development of shared payload technologies has opened up new opportunities for smaller, privately funded operations.

A decision to make the lunar hop won't be made until after the landing in April, but there's really nothing to gain from such a manoeuvre - one that could unnecessarily damage the probe. Technically, it is far from a trivial mission.

After its initial boost from the Falcon 9, the Beresheet's British engine will have to make several ignitions to place the spacecraft on the correct trajectory to the Moon.

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Here's a layman's explanation of how Beresheet will arrive at its destination.

The spacecraft carries a "time capsule" - a huge database of hundreds of digital files ranging from details about the NGO, the spacecraft and the crew of the project, national symbols, cultural items and materials collected from the general public over the years to be placed on the moon by the spacecraft. The entire mission cost about $100 million-quite affordable for a lunar mission.

"Beresheet is the first spacecraft to land on the Moon as a result of a private initiative, rather than a government".

The payload was launch on one of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets and the first stage of the rocket was previously used to launch the Iridium-7 mission in July of past year and the SAOCOM 1A mission in October.

After China earlier this year, and now Israel, India hopes to become the fifth lunar country in the spring with its Chandrayaan-2 mission. Beresheet will only be able to run for about three days max once it lands.

Japan plans to send a small lunar lander, called SLIM, to study a volcanic area around 2020-2021. The journey to the surface of the moon is expected to take eight weeks. To achieve this, the U.S. space agency is changing its model and no longer wants to design the missions itself. Despite the closing of the competition, SpaceIL continued with the project.

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