SpaceX Set To Launch First Rocket of 2019 From Cape Canaveral

SpaceIL's Beresheet spacecraft undergies tests before the big launch

Inside Israel’s Beresheet Spacecraft – A Great Technological Achievement By Viva Sarah Press No Camels

The 585-kilogram, dishwasher-sized lander was built by Israeli nonprofit space venture SpaceIL and state-owned defence contractor Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) with $US100 million furnished nearly entirely by private donors.

On Thursday, Israel launched a rocket into space, hoping to become the fourth country in the world to make a soft landing on the moon.

What just happened? Israel has launched its first lunar lander.

The most exciting "passenger" on the Falcon 9, though, is SpaceIL's lunar spacecraft Beresheet (Hebrew for "in the beginning").

"Israel is a very small country, as small as New Jersey, and we're shooting for the moon, SpaceIL manager of the Beresheet program Yigal Harel said".

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The Israeli craft was placed in Earth orbit, from where it will use its own engine to undertake a seven-week trip to reach the Moon and touch down on April 11 in a large plain.

The third payload is an experimental small spacecraft from Air Force Research Laboratory for a one-year mission.

SpaceIL was originally building the Beresheet lander for the Google Lunar X Prize, but continued on with the lander after the contest ended in March 2018 without a victor for the $20 million award.

Around the size of a dishwasher, Beresheet is one of three sets of cargo carried by the Falcon 9, part of the private rocket fleet of billionaire PayPal founder Elon Musk's company SpaceX.

In addition to a textbook launch and payload deployments, SpaceX scored yet another success in its pioneering technology for recycling its own rockets.

SpaceX Falcon 9 aces launch and landing after "most challenging reentry" yet
It aims to put a craft with a rover onto the Moon's surface to collect data. SpaceX recovered a payload fairing for the first time in 2017.

It will eventually be captured by the moon's gravity where it will enter a lunar orbit.

Once it lands on the moon, the spacecraft carrying the Israeli flag will begin taking photographs of the landing site and a selfie to prove that it has indeed landed on the moon.

The Israeli team said glare from the sun on the spacecraft's sensors was making it more hard than expected for the spacecraft to orient itself according to the position of the stars as it prepared for its first orbit around the Earth, the first stage of its slow seven-week journey to the moon. It is also the first private rather than government effort with funds coming from private donors including Morris Kahn and Sheldon and Miriam Adelson. The second goal is to promote the space industry here in Israel ... Once it lands, the probe will conduct various experiments on the Moon's surface, testing its magnetism and geology. "The strength of Israel in the world is rising, rising, rising and rising to the moon", Netanyahu said. "So we have to do it by commercial launch". 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.

Following liftoff, SpaceX recovered the first-stage booster, which flew twice previous year.

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