Israel to the Moon

Israeli spacecraft scheduled for liftoff on Friday; Jewish state will be only fourth nation to land a craft on the moon

Israel is making history. In just a few days, an Israeli spacecraft will take off for the moon. Named Beresheet (Genesis), it took nearly eight years of hard work by SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries to finally reach this exciting launch event.

So far, only Russia, the United States and China have sent spacecraft to the moon. The 585-kg Beresheet will lift off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Friday. Mission control will be stationed in Yehud, a town just south of Tel Aviv.

“We are entering history and are proud to belong to a group that has dreamed and fulfilled the vision shared by many countries in the world, but that so far only three of them have accomplished,” SpaceIL president Morris Kahn said.

Beresheet will first orbit earth, traveling a total of 6.5 million kilometers, the longest distance ever traveled to the moon, which is only about 380,000 kilometers from our planet.

Watch the Route to the Moon

The Israeli spacecraft contains a “time capsule” loaded with digital files including a Bible, children’s drawings, Israeli songs, memories of a Holocaust survivor and the blue-and-white Israeli flag. The $100-million project will measure the lunar magnetic field to help us understand how the moon was formed.

“This is the lowest-budget spacecraft to ever undertake such a mission. The superpowers that have managed to land spacecraft on the moon spent many times that number,” the IAI statement noted.

Beresheet is the first spacecraft to land on the moon as a private initiative, rather than a government project. The mission started in response to the Google Lunar XPrize, which offered a $30-million reward to encourage scientists and entrepreneurs to come up with a relatively inexpensive lunar mission.

Watch Launch Video

PHOTO: Artist’s rendition of the Israeli craft on the lunar surface. (Creative Commons)

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