Israel successfully launches its first moon lander
25 February 2019
Israel on Friday successfully launched its first spacecraft designed to land on the moon, from the Kennedy Space Center in the United States, early on Friday, Israeli officials said.
The dishwasher-size lander, named Beresheet, or Genesis in Hebrew, was launched at 8:45 p.m. local time on Thursday (0145 GMT Friday) aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), which has been monitoring the orbit, said it has been verified and Beresheet will start its journey to the moon.
Initial data was received in the control room in Yehud, the spacecraft's legs deployed as planned and Beresheet started in-orbit tests while cruising to the moon. After all sub-systems are tests, Beresheet will start its first maneuver and circling the Earth within nine hours.
"The successful launch positions Israel on the map. History has been made. We look forward to an amazing 7-week journey that will mark yet another historic even. We cross our fingers for Beresheet. Thank you to the amazing teams if SpaceIL and IAI. Israel is now on the space map," Morris Kahn, president of SpaceIL, IAI’s partner in the mission, said.
"We arrived at the launch with a fully tested spacecraft on its way for a highly challenging mission. I am proud of SpaceIL and IAI teams who made this accomplishment possible with professional work, perseverance and collaboration, if everything goes well, the spacecraft will enter a cruising orbit around Earth within an hour from the launch. In the next two months, Beresheet will continue its challenging journey until it lands on the moon," Ido Antebi, CEO of the SpaceIL NGO, stated.
SpaceIL is an Israeli organisation, established in 2011, which is competing in the Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP) to land a spacecraft on the Moon.
The Beresheet mission includes plans to measure the Moon's local magnetic field to help understand how it formed, and also carries a digital "time capsule". Beresheet would be the first Israeli spacecraft to travel beyond Earth orbit and the first private lander on the Moon. Israel would also become the fourth country, after the Soviet Union, United States, and China, to land a spacecraft on the Moon.