Science

Israel's first lunar lander launched into space from Florida

Israel's first lunar lander launched into space from Florida”

Following a successful separation after launch, SpaceX plans to land the Falcon 9 rocket booster on its drone ship, "Of Course I Still Love You", which is stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. NASA has a laser reflector aboard Beresheet and is offering its Deep Space Network for communication.

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.

Missions as complex as a moon landing have previously been the purview of only large and well-funded space agencies, but the growth of the private space industry and the development of shared payload technologies has opened up new opportunities for smaller, privately funded operations.

But as the competition wore on, it became apparent that none of the companies were going to be able to meet the deadline to land on the moon, and so Google ultimately scrapped the competition in March 2018.

"We thought it's about time for a change, and we want to get little Israel all the way to the moon", Yonatan Winetraub, a co-founder of SpaceIL, said during the briefing. It carries a magnetometer, so it can measure magnetism in its landing area in Mare Serenitatis, a visible region on the lunar near side. Beresheet will send information for approximately two to three days before the sun's rays are expected to melt parts of the communication system, ending the mission.

It has been funded mainly by Morris Kahn, a philanthropist and businessman who took the lead in completing the mission, serving as SpaceIL's president and financing $40 million, says the organization.

Beresheet will circle Earth six or seven times in a series of growing ellipses before jumping into the moon's orbit and hopefully landing in the Sea of Tranquility on April 11. A time capsule is aboard the lander - which includes a picture of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who died aboard space shuttle Columbia in 2003 - as well as a lunar library containing 30 million pages on a disk from the US -based Arch Mission Foundation. That includes a copy of Hebrew Bible, Hebrew songs, artwork created by Israeli children and a photo of Ilan Ramon, Israel's first and only astronaut. As a project of the Arch Mission Foundation, a nonprofit that archives humanity's important milestones, it will carry the English-version of Wikipedia and keys to 5,000 languages.

If the moon mission's launch and landing succeeds, Israel will enter history as the fourth country ever to set down a spacecraft on the surface of the moon.

USA satellite manufacturer Space Systems Loral, a Maxar company, purchased the Falcon 9 launch on behalf of its customer Pasifik Satelit Nusantara, or PSN.

The rocket's two other payloads were a telecommunications satellite for Indonesia and an experimental satellite for the U.S. Air Force.



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