Gallery: SpaceX lights up night sky with PSN 6 launch

23 February, 2019, 05:54 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off with Israel's Lunar Lander and an Indonesian communications satellite at space launch complex 40 Thursday Feb. 21 2019 in Cape Canaveral Fla. An Israeli spacecraft blasted off to the moon in an attempt to make

The third is a small experimental satellite for the Air Force, coordinated by Spaceflight Industries, who also organised the Israeli moon lander.

Israel will launch its spacecraft dubbed "Beresheet", or "beginning" in Hebrew, in the nation's first mission to land on the Moon's surface. The 1,290-pound (585-kilogram) spacecraft was built by Israeli nonprofit space venture SpaceIL and state-owned defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) with $100 million furnished nearly entirely by private donors.

The launch is the start of the Nusantara Satu mission for SpaceX involving an Indonesian communications satellite.

The spacecraft was successfully launched Thursday night by SpaceX.

So far, only Russian Federation, the United States and China have made the 384,000-kilometer (239,000-mile) journey and landed spacecraft on the Moon.

Despite the financial troubles that prevented it from making the Xprize deadline, SpaceIL found more funding and is continuing the mission without the promise of a $20 million prize.

Entrepreneurs, not government space agencies, financed the mission, which was initially projected at $10 million but eventually grew to $100 million. A success will make Israel the fourth country to have achieved a soft landing on the Moon's surface. In the background played SpaceX's live launch broadcast from Hawthorne, California, where an announcer said the Falcon 9 first stage would attempt to land on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You under the harshest weather conditions to date.

"Its mission is to transmit photos and video of its new home and conduct scientific measurements", SpaceX said of Beresheet.

The spacecraft will slingshot around Earth for about six weeks, firing thrusters to stretch out its orbit with every pass until it can be captured by the moon's gravity.

The payload was launch on one of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets and the first stage of the rocket was previously used to launch the Iridium-7 mission in July of past year and the SAOCOM 1A mission in October.

"We'll keep analyzing the data, but bottom line is we entered the very exclusive group of countries that have launched a spacecraft to the moon", said Yigal Harel, head of SpaceIL's spacecraft program. The engine fired again for a final two-minute burn, and after a five-minute coast, Beresheet was deployed successfully.

If successful, Beresheet will end up as the prototype for a series of future moon landing missions planned jointly by IAI and Germany's OHB System on behalf of the European Space Agency. NASA has a laser reflector aboard Beresheet and is offering its Deep Space Network for communication.

Beresheet's first maneuver will take place about 9 hours after launch, when engineers will also check to make sure everything is working as expected.



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