SpaceX rocket blasts off carrying Israeli lunar lander

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SpaceX has completed its second successful launch of 2019, sending the first commercial Moon lander on the first leg of its journey to the lunar surface with a sooty Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket. SpaceX plans to livestream the event on its website.

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).

Winetraub pointed out that the moon and the earth had to be in sync before the rocket could launch, adding, "The moon is coming around, and we're doing our own orbit, and we need to synchronize everything".

SpaceX described the booster recovery - its 34th - as facing "some of the most challenging reentry conditions to date".

If successful, Israel will be the fourth country to achieve a controlled touchdown on the moon's surface. On top of PSN 6 was the private Beresheet lander designed and built by Israeli organization SpaceIL.

An Israeli nonprofit called SpaceIL designed and developed the 1,322-lb robot called Beresheet, which means "in the beginning" - the first words in the Bible.

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At 8:45 p.m. Eastern Standard time on Thursday, Israel will launch its initial mission to the moon, which also represents the world's first privately funded lunar voyage.

Liftoff of Beresheet Beresheet blasts off atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 with the Nusantara Satu and S5 satellites on 22 February at 01:45 UTC (21 February 20:45 EST). Once landed, Beresheet's mission will be to transmit photo and videos of the surface, as well as to conduct scientific measurements. Beresheet will only be able to run for about three days max once it lands. SpaceIL co-founder Kfir Damari said, "It is rocket science, but our goal is to show them that it's not magic - it's something they can understand".

The Falcon 9 that flew tonight was also used past year to deliver the Iridium-7 and SAOCOM 1A payloads to orbit, SpaceX said ahead of launch.

In an interview this week, PSN CEO Adi Rahman Adiwoso said the operator has been leasing capacity on roughly half a dozen other spacecraft and borrowing AsiaSat-3S, a almost 20-year-old satellite from Hong Kong-based AsiaSat, to provide communications services across the Indonesia.

Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin quickly offered congratulations following Thursday's launch. The 4,735kg satellite, manufactured by Space Systems Loral (SSL), is destined to spend at least 15 years in geostationary orbit, providing voice and data communications throughout the Indonesian archipelago.

S5, built by Blue Canyon Technologies of Boulder, Colorado, is created to study the space environment, evaluating if low-priced satellites can improve knowledge of objects in geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometers above the Earth.

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