SpaceX launches the first private moon lander on Israel's behalf

SpaceX launches the first private moon lander on Israel's behalf

The craft was developed by Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL as well as the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries.

Israel seeks to become only the fourth country to successfully land on the moon, after Russian Federation, the USA and China.

Israel advanced in the space race Friday as a company sent the first-ever private spacecraft to land on the moon. Touchdown would be April 11 at the Sea of Serenity.

Israel-based organization SpaceIL had its lander, Beresheet, launched successfully at 8:45 p.m. on February 21, starting its 40-day journey to the moon.

The Israeli spacecraft Beresheet launched this evening on a trip to the moon, where it hopes to touch down in two months.

The U.S. Air Force also has a small research spacecraft aboard the rocket, for a one-year mission in orbit around Earth.

It was backed notably by businessman and philanthropist Morris Kahn, who financed the development of a craft.

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The SpaceX website said: "Falcon 9's first stage for the Nusantara Satu mission previously supported the Iridium-7 mission in July 2018 and the SAOCOM 1A mission in October 2018".

All these launched from the Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Air Force station.

It will eventually be captured by the moon's gravity where it will enter a lunar orbit.

The mission is part of renewed global interest in the Moon, sometimes called the "eighth continent" of the Earth, and comes 50 years after American astronauts first walked on the lunar surface. It will be the first such space capsule to land on the moon on a private initiative rather than on a government-funded enterprise.

Israel aims to land on the moon after hitching a ride with SpaceX. The contest requirements were that the vehicle would have to travel at least 500 meters on the lunar surface and be capable of transmitting HD videos and pictures back home. The spacecraft is also equipped with the ability to "hop" short distances on the moon, and engineers say they're confident it carries the fuel to do so. Created to radically improve the ease and speed of Falcon 9 booster reuse, Block 5 debuted in May 2018 and has now launched 12 times, with half of those missions flying on flight-proven boosters.

SpaceIL said it hoped Beresheet would help inspire Israel's defence-focused space program to pursue more science missions by way of an "Apollo effect", referring to the manned lunar exploration program that became NASA's chief objective in the 1960s and early '70s. Oded Aharonson of Israel's preeminent Weizmann Institute, explaining the significance of the launch for the Jewish state, which has several satellites.

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