Science

Israel's first Moon mission blasts off from Florida

Israel's first Moon mission blasts off from Florida

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin wished the Israeli non-profit organization SpaceIL well on Thursday ahead of the launch of its unmanned robotic explorer, named "Beresheet", to the moon.

The Jewish State would join the U.S., Russia, and China as the only countries to land a spacecraft on the moon. Weighing 1,322 pounds (600 kg), it's also the first spacecraft from an Israeli entity and the first privately-funded spacecraft to reach the lunar surface.

If successful, the mission will make Israel the world's fourth country to land on the Moon, after Russian Federation, the U.S., and China.

After deployment SpaceIL Beresheet will start its two-month voyage to the Moon. Falcon 9 will also deliver the Beresheet lunar spacecraft and Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) S5 spacecraft to orbit.

It was backed notably by businessman and philanthropist Morris Kahn, who financed the development of a craft. The satellite is Indonesia's first high-throughput satellite.

US satellite manufacturer Space Systems Loral, a Maxar company, purchased the Falcon 9 launch on behalf of its customer Pasifik Satelit Nusantara, or PSN.

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He also said the image was not of cross hairs, but rather, the "logo of an organization" often featured in many photos. Marshals Service, which provides security to federal judges, did not respond to a request for comment.

SpaceIL and IAI kept the price tag so low in part by sharing a ride on the Falcon 9, which lofted two other spacecraft to Earth orbit last night as well. Last month, China became the first country to land on the far side of 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. The 5-foot-tall (1.5 meters) lander will do a bit of science work during its two-Earth-day surface mission. 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.

We received the first sign of life & data from #Beresheet & the #spacecraft deployed its landing legs as expected.

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".

As one of the commenters on a YouTube clip of the launch noted, look how much tiny, resource-strained Israel has managed to achieve in the short 70 years of its modern existence?

SpaceX set a company record past year with 21 launches for customers including commercial satellite operators and the USA military, and Thursday's launch is its 70th total.