Israel spacecraft sends 'selfie' on maiden mission to moon

Cristina Cross
March 8, 2019

It still has thousands of miles to go before it gets to the moon, but Israel's moon lander Beresheet took time to take a selfie with a certain blue marble in the background.

Australia is clearly seen in the image, along with a small sign installed on the front of the spacecraft with the message "Am Yisrael Chai" (The People of Israel Live) and an Israeli flag.

Ground control activated the spacecraft's main engine for four minutes, putting it into a new orbit that takes it to a distance of 131,000 kilometers from earth.

Beresheet is Israel's first major space exploration programme and a successful touchdown on the Earth's satellite would be a first for a privately-funded initiative, because all past Moon landings were paid for by nation states. It is expected to land on the moon on April 11, where it will measure the moon's magnetic fields before succumbing to the sun's heat soon after.

"Despite the small size of the spacecraft Beresheet, it brings us great joy".

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket sent Beresheet into orbit on February 21, with a logistical assist from Seattle-based Spaceflight.

Beresheet will remain in earth's orbit until March 20, when it is planned to reach lunar capture orbit.

If it lands successfully, Israel will become the fourth nation to soft land on the moon following Russian Federation, the USA and China.

Beresheet - which means "Genesis" in Hebrew - lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida two weeks ago atop a used SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

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