SpaceX Is Launching Three Spacecraft Tonight-Including an Israeli Moon Lander

Michele Stevens
February 23, 2019

There are no plans for Beresheet to leave the moon, so its creators have also added historical, cultural, and scientific materials on three disks to serve as a sort of time capsule and monument to the first Israeli spacecraft.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Florida on Thursday night carrying Israel's first lunar lander on a mission that if successful will make the Jewish state only the fourth nation to achieve a controlled touchdown on the moon's surface.

Other partners are Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Israel's space agency, and the country's Ministry of Science and Technology.

The mission: The lander launched alongside the primary payload, the Indonesian telecommunications satellite Nusantara Satu, which was deployed without issue.

Beresheet will spend the next couple of months orbiting the Earth and then letting the moon's gravity pull it into the lunar orbit.

SpaceX is now testing a system to recover the fairings of its Falcon 9 rockets.

The $100 million Beresheet mission couldn't afford its own rocket - even a little one - so the organizers opted for a ride share.

Morris Kahn, who donated $40 million, stated, "This mission that we were talking about was really a mission impossible". It's set to be the smallest spacecraft to ever land on the Moon. Beresheet-which is roughly the size of a washing machine-will beam back images of the lunar surface and carry out measurements of the lunar magnetic field.

SpaceIL pressed on, signing with Elon Musk's SpaceX to launch its craft on board a Falcon 9 rocket.

After launching from Cape Canaveral, the spacecraft will make several lunar orbits before attempting a soft landing on the moon's surface. If successful, it would be the world's first private lunar landing.

As CNN noted, the first hard landing on the moon came in 1959, when Russian Federation launched Luna 2, which crashed onto the moon; the US followed with Ranger 4 in 1962.

Antebi says SpaceIL wants to show that a small country, with a small budget can join the prestigious moon landing club of the US, Russia, and China.

The Nasantara Satu mission lifts off from Cape Canaveral on February 21, 2019, carrying SpaceIL's lunar lander bound for the moon.

At the launch was the SpaceFlight Insider team to bring you fantastic imagery.

Winetraub pointed out that the moon and the earth had to be in sync before the rocket could launch, adding, "The moon is coming around, and we're doing our own orbit, and we need to synchronize everything".

Upon landing, Beresheet should transmit data from the moon for about two days.

The Israeli team said glare from the sun on the spacecraft's sensors was making it more hard than expected for the spacecraft to orient itself according to the position of the stars as it prepared for its first orbit around the Earth, the first stage of its slow seven-week journey to the moon.

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