Israel's $100 million moonshot blasts off with a successful launch

Pablo Tucker
May 8, 2019

Israel's first spacecraft created to land on the moon was successfully launched from the U.S. Kennedy Space Center early on Friday morning, Israeli officials said.

The unmanned spacecraft Beresheet (genesis) will be launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida, from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying three satellites. This major liftoff, which will take place at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 8:45 p.m. EST, will begin Israel's first eight-week journey to the moon. It is scheduled to reach the moon on April 4th and attempt a lunar landing on April 11th. "Good luck, Beresheet!" wrote the 89-year-old Aldrin, who was the lunar module pilot when he and fellow astronaut and mission commander Neil Armstrong became the first two humans to walk on the moon on July 21, 1969.

The $100 million mission was financed mainly through private donors. "This is a big milestone".

Israel is headed for the moon.

The Falcon 9 rocket that brought Beresheet into space also deployed a large geo-communication satellite and other equipment for the US Air Force.

Beresheet was one of only three payloads to be carried aloft by the SpaceX rocket.

With this mission, Israel will join the United States, Russia and China in landing a spacecraft on the moon.

Take-off was followed live back in Israel, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu watching alongside engineers from the control center of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). The spacecraft is carrying a Hebrew Bible inscribed with nanotechnology on a small metal circle the size of a NIS 5 coin, and a time capsule with Israel's Declaration of Independence and national anthem, the memories of a Holocaust survivor, children's drawings of space and the moon, the Traveler's Prayer and a note from the late president Shimon Peres.

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. "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", said in a statement NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. At a pre-launch briefing here on Wednesday (Feb. 20), SpaceIL co-founder Kfir Damari said Ramon "inspired us when we were younger", adding that he hopes SpaceIL's mission will inspire the next generation of Israeli rocket scientists.

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