Israel Joins Race To Space: Liftoff Set For Thursday
22 February, 2019, 13:54
If they are unable to launch on Thursday they have a backup window on Friday around the same time.
The initial project was conceived in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition to successfully land an unmanned probe on the Moon, which was eventually discontinued before a victor was declared since no competitors were able to complete their projects by the March 31, 2018, deadline. It will be the first such space capsule to land on the moon on a private initiative rather than on a government-funded enterprise.
The mission began in earnest in 2009, when founders Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub registered for Google's Lunar X Prize - a moon race to build and land a commercial lunar spacecraft. Once landed, Beresheet's mission will be to transmit photo and videos of the surface, as well as to conduct scientific measurements. "Israel is aiming for the #moon and you're all invited to watch", said a Twitter message from SpaceIL, the non-profit organization that designed the Israeli craft.
A company representative declined to comment on SpaceIL's mission ahead of launch, but noted that the "webcast will have more to say on the mission". When none of the teams were able to reach that goal before the deadline, the competition ended without a victor.
If successful, Israel will be only the fourth country ever to land a spacecraft successfully on the moon.
When Beresheet approaches the lunar surface, it will aim to touch down in a region called Mare Serenitatis, meaning "Sea of Tranquility".
It is scheduled to lift off on Thursday evening from Cape Canaveral in Florida, the start of an eight-week journey to the moon's surface, with a planned April 11 arrival. 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). NASA contributed the device to this mission as part of an agreement with SpaceIL that would allow the startup company to utilize the DSN for its moon mission. Two minutes after it separates from the rocket, Beresheet will communicate for the first time with the mission's control center in Yehud, Israel.
"It is high time that the Jewish people and the State of Israel achieved this immortal milestone", the Adelsons said in a news release.
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