Israel Launches Spacecraft Towards Moon in 1st Lunar Landing Attempt


An Israeli spacecraft rocketed toward the moon for the country's first attempted lunar landing, following a launch on Thursday night by SpaceX.

The other three nations to have carried out controlled "soft" landings on the moon are the United States, the former Soviet Union, and China.

Nearly 34 minutes after launch, Falcon 9 reached the edge of space and Beresheet was jettisoned into Earth orbit.

It will take two months for Beresheet to reach the Mare Serenitatis on the Moon's northern hemisphere, where it will measure lunar magnetic anomalies and give the data to NASA once collected.

The Falcon 9 was on its third flight having launched the Iridium-7 mission in July 2018 and the SAOCOM 1A mission the following October.

Israel is reaching new heights after it launched a space probe in conjunction with SpaceX in an attempt to get to the moon for the nation's first time.

The static fire test for the launch was completed on Monday with the first launch window opening on Thursday, there was a backup window scheduled for Friday just in case the first launch had to be scrubbed. Data will be relayed via the USA space agency NASA's Deep Space Network to SpaceIL's Israel-based ground station Yehud.

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.

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But before it can land, Beresheet must make it to the moon, and its six-week jaunt around the Earth may seem like an odd approach.

It was carrying a spacecraft made by an Israeli company called "SpaceIL".

The primary payload aboard the Falcon 9 rocket was an Indonesian communications satellite known as Nusantara Satu and operated by Pasifik Satelit Nusantara.

SpaceIL started as a Google Lunar XPrize team and is backed by South African billionaire Morris Kahn.

A live stream of the mission captured the moment Falcon 9 landed safely back on a SpaceX droneship, a robotic landing platform deployed to see.

The company, a non-profit, is funded by the Israeli government and a variety of investors. A time capsule is aboard the lander - which includes a picture of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who died aboard space shuttle Columbia in 2003 - as well as a lunar library containing 30 million pages on a disk from the USA -based Arch Mission Foundation.

After China earlier this year, and now Israel, India hopes to become the fifth lunar country in the spring with its Chandrayaan-2 mission.