Science

Israel aiming to land on moon with SpaceX launch

Israel aiming to land on moon with SpaceX launch”

Beresheet is slated to reach its destination on the near-side of the moon in mid-April following a two-month journey through 4 million miles (6.5 million kilometers) of space.

SpaceIL's "Beresheet" mission is the first-ever private moon landing attempt, started by a Google Lunar XPrize team backed by South African billionaire Morris Kahn.

The United States, the former Soviet Union and China are the only three nations to date to have achieved controlled "soft" landings of spacecraft on the lunar surface. But Israel's privately funded lunar lander - a first not just for Israel but commercial space - generated the buzz. It was the third mission for the booster, which first flew in July with 10 Iridium Next communications satellites and again in October with a radar satellite for the Argentine space agency CONAE.

The unmanned mission is part of renewed global interest in the Moon, sometimes called the "eighth continent" of the Earth, and comes 50 years after American astronauts first walked on the lunar surface.

And SpaceX's flagship Falcon 9 rocket has proven its capable of ferrying multiple satellites into space and depositing them in their appropriate orbits.

Piggybacking on the launch was the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) S5 experimental small spacecraft, which will carry out a one-year mission tracking objects in geostationary orbit, and SpaceIL's lunar spacecraft, Beresheet. Once landed, Beresheet's mission will be to transmit photo and videos of the surface, as well as to conduct scientific measurements.

Israel Flying to Moon After SpaceX Launch

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".

Beresheet also will carry a capsule with information on Israel and the Jewish people, and a complete Bible inscribed on a coin the size of a US quarter. A flight path directly from the Earth to the moon would cover roughly 386,242 km.

The spacecraft will slingshot around Earth for about six weeks, firing thrusters to stretch out its orbit with every pass until it can be captured by the moon's gravity.

A decision to make the lunar hop won't be made until after the landing in April, but there's really nothing to gain from such a manoeuvre - one that could unnecessarily damage the probe.

A communications satellite for Indonesia was the main cargo aboard the Falcon 9 rocket, which illuminated the sky as it took flight. It will use that time to measure the moon's magnetic field as it approaches for landing, which could shed light on the moon's core that's believed to be made of iron. SpaceIL officials say that the data collected will help scientists learn more about the creation and evolution of the moon.



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