Thursday, 19 September, 2019

Israel Becomes The Fourth Nation To Land On The Moon

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Sandra Phillips | 11 April, 2019, 23:23

Once Genesis touches the lunar surface, Israel will have entered the history books as only the fourth country to successfully land a spacecraft on the moon, sharing the honor with far larger countries with much deeper pockets - the U.S., China and Russian Federation. The Beresheet lander ("in the beginning" in Hebrew, so named after an Israel-wide naming competition) was designed and built by SpaceIL from 2011 onwards for the Lunar X-Prize competition, and the project continued when the Lunar X-Prize was ended in 2018 without a victor, or even without an entry flying into space.

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Live coverage of the landing was scheduled to begin at 2:45 p.m. ET Thursday and it was expected to be available on the SpaceIL YouTube channel for anyone to watch.

Beresheet snapped this partial selfie during its approach to the moon.

A screenshot from Instagram showing posts with the "Israel to the moon" hashtag. Israel, he said, would try again soon to reach the moon and land in the correct way.

The IAA arrivals timetable showing the expected moon landing. That's the Moon! Image Credit: SpaceIL. Mission control lost communications with the spacecraft when it was about 489 feet (149 meters) above the moon's surface. The spacecraft had a number of technical problems during its final descent to the lunar surface, the command team said, as cited by the outlet. The company was founded with one objective in mind: getting to the Moon. It has made 12.5 Earth orbits, including seven at an altitude of 70,000 km (nearly 44,000 miles), two at an altitude of 131,000 km (nearly 814,000 miles), two at an altitude of 265,000 km (nearly 165,000 miles) and 1.5 at 420,000 km (over 260,000 miles).

"Supporting SpaceIL and the Israel Space Agency (ISA) with this mission is a prime example of how we can do more, together". Nonprofit SpaceIL would have been the first private, nongovernment group to set a lander on the moon's surface. While Beresheet is operating its magnetometer will measure traces of the ancient lunar magnetic field, which was once as strong as Earth's billions of years ago, and measure magnetic anomalies known to be in the Mare Serenitatis area.

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The landing legs have crushable aluminum honeycomb structures as well as stainless steel deformable structures that both are meant to absorb the energy of the landing, and they were extensively tested at IAI along with the rest of the spacecraft.

On board, there's also a time capsule and a nano-Bible microscopically etched on a small metal disc the size of a coin. Beresheet has already sent back stunning pictures of the Earth and Moon during its travels so far, and plans to continue.

The unmanned spacecraft would have taken Israel into an exclusive club of space-exploring nations.

Beresheet was born out of the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition to land an unmanned probe on the moon. The SpaceIL team was helped by multiple donations from the Israeli Space Agency as well as a donation from billionaire Sheldon Adelson in 2014. "I didn't realize it was impossible and the three engineers who started this project didn't realize it was impossible, and the way we in Israel think, nothing is impossible".

After eight years of development, Beresheet spacecraft was launched from Florida's Cape Canaveral on Friday, January 22.

Israeli NGO SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the two main partners, describe the project as the "world's first spacecraft built in a non-governmental mission", with philanthropist Morris Kahn putting up $40 million of the $100 million budget.

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