With the little Beresheet module, Israel makes stakes a claim to be the fourth country to ever land a craft on the moon
The first step in landing the Israeli autonomous craft Beresheet (Genesis) on the moon was successfully completed last night when the small spacecraft was launched into space from Cape Canaveral Florida on top of a SpaceX launch vehicle. The owners of the module, the Israeli non-profit organization SpaceIL is reporting that all systems are operating nominally. Telemetry has been received and the landing gear has been successfully deployed.
Beresheet will take the long and slow road, traveling six million kilometers to reach the moon, which is only distant from earth about 300 thousand kilometers, or one twentieth of the total distance traveled. The long elliptical path of Beresheet is calculated to minimize fuel consumption for acceleration, deceleration, and trajectory corrective burns by its rocket thrusters.
When Beresheet reaches the moon on April 11, 2019, Israel will become only the fourth country to have ever landed a spaceship on the moon.
As to its mission, it seems that it is a bit of a public relations one, though of course the technical challenges associated with such a complex project are not to be dismissed. Beresheet is equipped with a “selfie camera” and a message that the owners of the craft wished to remain a secret.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who is in the midst of a tough reelection campaign, may have scooped the owners though, by saying that he had requested that the Hebrew Bible, the Tanach and an Israeli flag with the inscription “am Israel chai” (the Nation of Israel lives) be placed on board the lunar lander. In addressing the team that designed the module, Netanyahu was quoted saying: “This is something we could have only dreamed of. We are a small country, but also a great one, great in accomplishments. I hope you are planning a trip to Mars next.”
More details can be found on the SpaceIL website: