Israel launches spacecraft in SpaceX’s first private mission to moon

SpaceIL team. Courtesy

SpaceIL team. Courtesy

The Nusantara Satu Mission will launch the Nusantara Satu satellite and the Beresheet lunar spacecraft, according to their website.

The other three nations to have carried out controlled "soft" landings on the moon are the United States, the former Soviet Union, and China. It will also be the first non-governmental spacecraft to reach the moon.

After the launch, the craft will disengage from the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at around 38,300 miles above Earth's surface, and will then continue on its journey to the Moon.

The unmanned robotic lander dubbed Beresheet - Hebrew for the biblical phrase "in the beginning" - soared into space from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at about 8:45 p.m. ET atop the 23-storey-tall rocket.

But the 5-foot-tall (1.5 meters) Beresheet can not take a direct path to the moon, project team members said, because the lander shared a rocket ride with two other payloads. A company representative declined to comment on SpaceIL's mission ahead of launch, but noted that the "webcast will have more to say on the mission". "Israel is aiming for the #moon and you're all invited to watch", said a Twitter message from SpaceIL, the non-profit organization that designed the Israeli craft.

The total cost of one of its Falcon 9 launches is estimated to reach £44 million ($61m), while each of its larger Falcon Heavy flights costs £65 million ($90m). He said PSN anticipates using Nusantara Satu to connect around 5 million people through Wi-Fi hotspots by the end of this year. Once landed, Beresheet's mission will be to transmit photo and videos of the surface, as well as to conduct scientific measurements. Falcon 9 will also deliver the Beresheet lunar spacecraft and Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) S5 spacecraft to orbit. This graphic reveals just how big it is - and what's out there. The reuse of boosters is part of SpaceX's plan to make spaceflight cheaper.

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According to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, the booster could fly again as early as April in support of Crew Dragon's in-flight abort mission, although his implication that that test will occur in April directly contradicts a recent NASA schedule update that pegged the test no earlier than (NET) June 2019.

On Wednesday, the US Air Force predicted a roughly 20% chance of launch delays due to unfavorable weather conditions.

Technically, it is far from a trivial mission.

If they are unable to launch on Thursday they have a backup window on Friday around the same time.

"We want the Israeli kids and the Israeli youth to, we want to encourage them to learn STEM subjects - science, technology, engineering and informatics - and we hope that they will have this mission we will create the effect and encourage them".

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