Israeli moon lander launched by SpaceX expected to land in April

Israeli moon lander launched by SpaceX expected to land in April

The launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, will carry the first private mission to the moon: a 1,300-pound lunar lander called "Beresheet".

The SpaceX website said: "Falcon 9's first stage for the Nusantara Satu mission previously supported the Iridium-7 mission in July 2018 and the SAOCOM 1A mission in October 2018".

If Israel's space venture proceeds as planned, it will become the fourth - and by far the smallest - country to do so.

After deployment SpaceIL Beresheet will start its two-month voyage to the Moon.

The $100 million mission was designed and built by SpaceIL, a nonprofit based in Israel, and will take until early April to reach the moon. During SpaceX's live broadcast it was confirmed that SpaceIL had received a signal from the craft and that its landing legs had deployed. Two minutes after it separates from the rocket, Beresheet will communicate for the first time with the mission's control center in Yehud, Israel.

If all goes according to plan, the spacecraft's gradually widening Earth orbit will eventually bring the probe within the moon's gravitational pull, setting the stage for a series of additional maneuvers leading to an automated touchdown.

The forty-day voyage culminates with a landing scheduled for April 11. That makes for a much longer trip; the moon right now is almost 230,000 miles (370,000 kilometers) away.

The third payload is an experimental small spacecraft from Air Force Research Laboratory for a one-year mission. The journey to the surface of the moon is expected to take eight weeks. NASA followed with the Ranger 4 spacecraft in 1962.

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Once it lands on the moon, the spacecraft carrying the Israeli flag will begin taking photographs of the landing site and a selfie to prove that it has indeed landed on the moon.

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". This is what makes NASA's offer to track the spacecraft with its Deep Space Network and lunar orbiters so valuable.

The Beresheet mission originally was part of the Google Lunar XPrize competition and even made the final cut before the contest ended past year without a victor. The organizers made a decision to press ahead on their own, with donations from billionaires as well as schoolchildren.

Lunar surface operations are meant to last just two days.

Beresheet would mark the first non-government lunar landing.

Ramon's widow, Rona, was a big supporter of Beresheet; she died of cancer in December.

Spaceflight Industries acts as a broker for satellite operators that need to get into space, finding extra room on rockets already launching.

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