Israeli spacecraft "Beresheet" was successfully launched at 3.45am this morning Israel-time from Cape Canaveral in Florida. One hour after the launch, Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) and SpaceIL reported that the spacecraft was in an elliptical orbit en-route to the moon, where it will touch down seven weeks from now on April 11. The countdown was conducted by IAI Space Division General Manager Opher Doron.
The Israeli spacecraft was launched using Elon Musk's SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket together with US and Indonesian satellites. Watching the launch with his wife Sara at the IAI Control Center in Yehud, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "The State of Israel is a rising world power - rising to the moon. It shows what we are capable of and it is due to the people here."
Israel will become only the fourth country to land on the moon after the US, Russia and China and at a cost of only $100 million compared with the many billions spent by the other countries. 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 Israeli spacecraft will be the smallest to land on the moon: a meter and a half high, two meters in diameter, carrying fuel that accounts for 75% of its weight; 600 kilograms. When it lands, it will weigh 180 kilograms.
The spacecraft is also unique for its low redundancy with no back-up systems for its components, as usual in space missions, making it lighter, and cheaper to build.
The spacecraft will orbit the earth in elliptical orbits and will travel 6.5 million kilometers - the longest distance ever travelled to the moon. During these orbits, the spacecraft will raise its orbit around earth until it reaches the proximity of the moon. When the spacecraft is in lunar orbit, about 10 days before landing, it will orbit it until the appropriate time and an autonomous landing process will begin.
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 spacecraft also has a scientific mission: to measure the moon's magnetic field as part of an experiment carried out in collaboration with the Weizmann Institute.
The spacecraft carries a "time capsule" - a huge database of hundreds of digital files ranging from details about the NGO, the spacecraft and the crew of the project, national symbols, cultural items and materials collected from the general public over the years to be placed on the moon by the spacecraft. The time capsule will remain on the moon, so that the information it carries is destined to remain there for an indefinite period, to be found by future generations.
President Reuven Rivlin said, "Congratulations to the State of Israel. You have a spacecraft bound for the moon."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on February 22, 2019
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