Israel has taken an important first step to the Moon following the launch of its privately-built Beresheet lunar lander, which entered space yesterday aboard a SpaceX rocket.
The lander, Beresheet, atop a SpaceXFalcon 9 rocket, was launched at 5.45 p.m. on Thursday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, NASAsaid.
Israel seeks to become only the fourth country to successfully land on the moon, after Russian Federation, the USA and China.
During a mission slated to last just two to three days on the moon, Beresheet will use on board instruments to photograph the landing site on the Sea of Tranquility, SpaceIL vice-president Yigal Harel said.
A livestream of the mission showed the moment the rocket landed safely back on a SpaceX drone ship, a robotic landing platform in the Atlantic Ocean called "Of Course I Still Love You".
The rocket left the pad at Space Launch Complex 40 at 01:45 UTC, marking the first launch for SpaceX from the facility in 2019.
Speaking on the stream, SpaceX manufacturing engineer Jessie Anderson said: "We do have a successful first stage landing despite the challenging conditions here".
Other partners are Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Israel's space agency, and the country's Ministry of Science and Technology. Previously, only the U.S., U.S.S.R, and China have landed spacecraft on the moon.
People watch the launch of Israel's spacecraft Beresheet at the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) in Israel's central town of Yahud on February 22, 2019. Once this is complete, it will head for the Moon and it will orbit it too several times before landing in the Mare Serenitatis region in the Moon's northern hemisphere.
The rocket also contains an Indonesian satellite and a satellite of the US Air Force Research Laboratory. What's even more awesome about SpaceIL is that all three of these nation-state operations that have made it to the moon so far have had enormous capital backing up their missions.
There are no plans for Beresheet to leave the moon, so its creators have also added historical, cultural, and scientific materials on three disks to serve as a sort of time capsule and monument to the first Israeli spacecraft.
The company, a non-profit, is funded by the Israeli government and a variety of investors.
But as the competition wore on, it became apparent that none of the companies were going to be able to meet the deadline to land on the moon, and so Google ultimately scrapped the competition in March 2018.
The booster from this mission is scheduled to be redeployed in April.
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The engine fired again for a final two-minute burn, and after a five-minute coast, Beresheet was deployed successfully. The launch is the start of the Nusantara Satu mission for SpaceX involving an Indonesian communications satellite.
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