Israeli Spacecraft Heading to Moon

Israeli Spacecraft Heading to Moon

China's Chang'e-4 made the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the Moon on January 3, after a probe sent by Beijing made a Lunar landing elsewhere in 2013.

The rocket's two other payloads were a telecommunications satellite for Indonesia and an experimental satellite for the U.S. Air Force.

Israel seeks to become the fourth country in the world, after Russian Federation, the United States and China, to land a spacecraft on the moon. He signed a cooperation agreement with SpaceIL through the Israel Space Agency. The 1,290-pound (585 kg) spacecraft was built by Israeli nonprofit space venture SpaceIL and state-owned defence contractor Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) with $100 million furnished nearly entirely by private donors. It was developed and constructed at a cost of only $100 million.

Lunar surface operations are meant to last just two days.

SpaceIL, the Israeli organization behind Israel's first mission to the moon that's been working on the lander for eight years, is one of the original Google Lunar XPrize teams and is expected to be the first among almost 30 teams to make it to the moon.

The spacecraft will land on a site within Mare Serenitatis, on the northern hemisphere of the Moon.

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On Friday, NASA is expected to decide whether to give its final go-ahead to SpaceX for a first, unmanned test flight on March 2 of a new capsule created to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

Beresheet will also deposit a "time capsule" of digital files the size of coins which contain the Bible, children's drawings, Israel's national anthem and flag, as well as memories of a Holocaust survivor and Israeli songs and prayers.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine congratulated the Israeli team for carrying out the mission, saying, "this is a historic step for all nations and commercial space as we look to extend our collaborations beyond low-Earth orbit and on to the Moon". It aims to put a craft with a rover onto the Moon's surface to collect data.

As for the Americans, a return to the Moon is now the official policy of NASA, according to guidelines issued by President Donald Trump in 2017.

Interestingly, the idea of sending a robotic lander to the moon occurred to Israeli entrepreneurs Yonatan Winetraub, Yariv Bash and Kfir Damari when they gathered at a bar nearly a decade ago. But the group behind SpaceIL chose to continue its mission, turning to donors to help fund the barebones operation.

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