Watch SpaceX Bring World's First Private Lunar Mission Into Space

23 February, 2019, 05:53 | Author: Chad Warren

An Israeli spacecraft blasted off to the moon in an attempt to make the country’s first lunar landing, following a launch Thursday night by SpaceX.

An hour after launch, Beresheet's engineers reported that the spacecraft had deployed its landing legs as expected, and was sending back its first signs of life, indicating a safe entry into space. Eastern, deploying the Beresheet lunar lander 33 minutes later, and the Nusantara Satu telecom satellite with the S5 experimental smallsat almost 45 minutes after liftoff.

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.

SpaceX's 23-story Falcon 9 rocket should launch sometime between 8:45 p.m. and 9:17 p.m. EST tonight.

The Jewish State would join the U.S., Russia, and China as the only countries to land a spacecraft on the moon.

Beresheet's mission to the near-side of the moon after a 4 million mile journey through space.

Morris Kahn, who donated $40 million, stated, "This mission that we were talking about was really a mission impossible". If successful, the mission will make Israel the world's fourth country to land on the Moon, after Russian Federation, the U.S., and China. This helps explain why Beresheet is taking such a long and circuitous route to the moon - the lander didn't have its own dedicated rocket to launch it on a direct path. But Yigel Harel, the head of SpaceIL's Spacecraft program, pointed out during a press conference that, "We realized right at the beginning that we don't have a Saturn V engine".

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The four-legged Beresheet, barely the size of a washing machine, will circle Earth in ever bigger loops until it's captured by lunar gravity and goes into orbit around the moon.

Watch the mission unfold live here.

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

Aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the spacecraft will orbit the Earth after detaching from the launcher, and land on the moon around April 11. Once in the geostationary transfer orbit, Beresheet was deployed first at a mission-elapsed-time of about 34 minutes.

Simply making it to the moon, however, would be a historic achievement, as Beresheet would be the first non-government craft to reach the lunar surface. It will use the agency's deep space telecommunications network to beam data back to its ground team.

Beresheet is created to spend just two to three days using on-board instruments to photograph its landing site and measure the moon's magnetic field. Once on the surface, it will set up retroreflectors which NASA can bounce lasers off to get a highly accurate measurement of the distance to the moon.

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