Israel's first moon mission set for liftoff from Florida on Thursday
Israel's first moon mission set for liftoff from Florida on Thursday
Israel's moon rocket blasts off in Florida
08 May, 2019, 08:56
An unmanned rocket took off from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Thursday night carrying Israel's Beresheet spacecraft, aiming to make history twice: as the first private-sector landing on the Moon, and the first from the Jewish state.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu watched the takeoff of the unmanned mission live in Israel at the control center of Israel Aerospace Industries.
"If the #SpaceIL mission is successful this Thursday, Israel will become the fourth country to land an aircraft on the moon".
SpaceIL, the nonprofit organization behind the effort, participated in the Google Lunar XPrize, which offered a $30 million reward for a privately funded team to land an automated spacecraft.
Beresheet, which means Genesis or "in the beginning" in the Hebrew language, will take about two months to reach the moon.
The Beresheet spacecraft will measure magnetic fields on the moon, data which will be transferred to the Weizmann Institute to help scientists study how the moon was formed billions of years ago.
"Congratulations to SpaceIL and the Israel Space Agency", said Bridenstine. That makes for a much longer trip; the moon right now is almost 230,000 miles (370,000km) away.
So far, only three other nations have carried out controlled "soft" landings of spacecraft on the lunar surface - the United States, the former Soviet Union and China.
SpaceIL has no plans for future explorations of its own beyond Beresheet and "will not continue after this mission", Harel said.
Beresheet will also deposit a "time capsule" of digital files the size of coins which contain the Bible, children's drawings, Israel's national anthem and flag, as well as memories of a Holocaust survivor and Israeli songs and prayers.
"This is Uber-style space exploration, so we're riding shotgun on the rocket", Winetraub explained at a news conference on the eve of launch.
Israel's first moon mission blasted off from Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Friday. Ramon's widow, Rona, continued to fuel that inspiration after the Columbia disaster, Damari added.
It is also carrying an Indonesian telecommunications satellite and an experimental US Air Force satellite.
Following liftoff, SpaceX recovered the first-stage booster, which flew twice previous year.
In 1973, early missions to the moon cost the modern equivalent of $2.6Bper launch. The booster landed smoothly on an offshore ocean platform, after the hottest re-entry yet, according to SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk.
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