Spacecraft will be launched on Falcon 9 rocket from Florida with control mission in Israel; Spacecraft includes time capsule with Holocaust accounts, Israeli flag, Hebrew Bible; NASA and Israel to use mission for scientific research, mainly on moon’s magnetic fields.
Israel will make history and launch its first spacecraft to land on the moon on Thursday.
The launch will be carried out by Israel’s SpaceIL in conjunction with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). If successful, the Israeli spacecraft, known as “Beresheet” (Genesis), will be the smallest spacecraft to land on the moon. Unlike any other missions to the moon funded by governments, this mission is private, with donations making up for the $100 million costs.
The historic launch is scheduled for early Friday morning from Cape Canaveral, Florida and the mission control from Yehud, Israel. The spacecraft will be launched on a Falcon 9 rocket and is expected to enter space where it will orbit the earth before the moon with a landing date scheduled for April 11, 2019. According to IAI, “Genesis will make its 6.5-million-kilometer (1 million-mile) journey at a maximum speed of 10 kilometers per second (36,000 kilometers per hour).” Beresheet is only 2 meters in diameter and 1.5 meters high and at its launch will be 1,290 pounds lowering to 180 pounds at landing.
The spacecraft will include a time capsule with digital files about the mission, SpaceIL and Israel. Digital files will include a Hebrew Bible, Israeli songs and poetry, Holocaust survivors’ accounts, art, an Israeli flag and much more. The spacecraft has been programed to take a photo of the Israeli flag on the moon once it lands.
President of SpaceIL, Morris Kahn, praised the historic mission, stating “We are entering history and are proud to belong to a group that has dreamed and fulfilled the vision shared by many countries in the world but that so far only three of them have accomplished.”
If a success, Israel will be the fourth nation to land on the moon, following the United States, China and Russia. The spacecraft will be used for mainly scientific research and data gathering for both Israel and NASA. NASA, which has been cooperating with both IAI and SpaceIL on the mission, have installed an retro-reflector, a laser beam that will locate the aircraft once it lands. The main research carried out will be to measure the moon’s magnetic field using a magnetometer.
NASA intends to land an unmanned vehicle on the moon by 2024.