Tuesday, 21 May, 2019


Israel set to join elite lunar club with first mission to moon

Kristine Garrett | 22 February, 2019, 06:20

Israel's Beresheet spacecraft makes history tonight when it launches upon its historic mission to the moon.

If all goes according to plan, Beresheet, about the size of a dishwasher, will arrive on the near-side of the moon in mid-April following a two-month journey through 4 million miles (6.5 million km) of space. The 1,290-pound (585 kg) spacecraft was built by Israeli nonprofit space venture SpaceIL and state-owned defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) with $100 million furnished nearly entirely by private donors.

Also piggybacking on the flight will be a US Air Force experiment called Air Force Research Laboratory S5 - a microsatellite that's created to detect objects that orbit Earth near a region called geostationary orbit (which is about 22,300 miles away from the planet's surface).

SpaceX is targeting Thursday, February 21, for launch of the Nusantara Satu satellite from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. After deploying its two payloads into orbit, the Falcon 9's first stage returned to Earth and aced a landing (the third for this booster) on SpaceX's drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You", which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

The US Apollo program tallied six manned missions to the moon - the only ones yet achieved - between 1969 and 1972.

The 5-foot-tall Beresheet lander will be tucked into the rocket with Nusantara Satu.

Lift off took place at 8:45 p.m. ET, at the beginning of the 32-minute launch window.

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.

This marked the third landing for the same booster, which was previously used last year to launch a set of Iridium NEXT satellites and Argentina's SAOCOM 1A satellite.

On Wednesday, the US Air Force predicted a roughly 20% chance of launch delays due to unfavorable weather conditions. The lander will also carry a time capsule, which contains a "Lunar Library".

"At SpaceIL we hope that the next generation of engineers and scientists will be able to bring Beresheet back to Earth", the company said. Indonesia's first high-throughput satellite is expected to boost voice, data and video links throughout the Indonesian archipelago and PSN's Asia-Pacific service area.

If successful, Beresheet will end up as the prototype for a series of future moon landing missions planned jointly by IAI and Germany's OHB System on behalf of the European Space Agency. While Musk has cornered the market on commercial rocket launches, SpaceIL and IAI are hoping to find a niche in cheap moon landings, so space agencies or, one day, private individuals or organizations, could send cameras and research equipment to the moon for their own purposes.

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