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SpaceX Is Launching Israel's First Mission to the Moon Tonight

SpaceX Is Launching Three Spacecraft Tonight–Including an Israeli Moon Lander

"After the launch, our crew will take control of Beresheet and begin the journey to the moon!" is offering readers three options to join millions in watching live online as the robotic lunar lander lifts off atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

SpaceIL said it hoped Beresheet would help inspire Israel's defence-focused space program to pursue more science missions by way of an "Apollo effect", referring to the manned lunar exploration program that became NASA's chief goal in the 1960s and early '70s. After that, it will take a month to reach an orbit 250 miles from Earth, and then continue to circle farther out until it is captured into a lunar orbit. In addition to Kahn, Dr Miriam Adelson, an Israeli-American doctor and philanthropist, and her husband, casino magnate and investor Sheldon Adelson, contributed $US24 million to keep the lunar lander soaring. Mounted on the spacecraft is a laser retroreflector, a mirroring device that requires no power and can be used for space-to-ground communications via NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN).

The mission was originally intended for Google's Lunar Xprize, a competition created to encourage privately funded groups to send robotic landers to the moon.

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"In religion and ethics, science and scholarship, we have long reached for the stars; now we are rightfully reaching the moon". "Tiny, tiny Israel is about to become the fourth nation to land on the moon, and this is a remarkable thing because we continue to demonstrate our ability to punch far above our weight and to show off our skills, our innovation [and] our creativity in tackling any hard problem that could possibly exist". During that time, it will study the moon's magnetic fields and take photos of the lunar surface - along with some out-of-this-world selfies, Yigal Harel, head of the SpaceIL Spacecraft Program, said in the briefing.

SpaceX recovered a payload fairing for the first time in 2017. It aims to put a craft with a rover onto the Moon's surface to collect data.

Stored inside is a totem to the nation: a time capsule in the form of three disks containing Israeli artefacts such as its Proclamation of Independence, national songs and drawings by Israeli children.

The spacecraft is also equipped with the ability to "hop" short distances on the moon, and engineers say they're confident it carries the fuel to do so.

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'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.

Meanwhile, Beresheet, the Air Force Research Laboratory's S5 satellite, and the primary payload, Nusantara Saru, pushed on to orbit.

Nusantara Satu is a 4,100-kilogram communications satellite equipped with C- and Ku-band transponders, mainly for broadband connectivity.

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