SpaceX launches the Nusantara Satu satellite

Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) say that Israel's inaugural voyage to the moon - the world's first privately funded lunar mission - will begin Thursday night at approximately 8:45 p.m., U.S. Eastern time, when the lunar lander "Beresheet" ("In the Beginning") blasts off aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Blastoff occurred right on time at 8:45 p.m. ET.

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin wished the Israeli non-profit organization SpaceIL well on Thursday ahead of the launch of its unmanned robotic explorer, named "Beresheet", to the moon.

The booster from this mission is scheduled to be redeployed in April.

This marked the third landing for the same booster, which was previously used last year to launch a set of Iridium NEXT satellites and Argentina's SAOCOM 1A satellite.

Nusantara Satu, also known as PSN-6, was built by Maxar Technologies' SSL subsidiary for Pasifik Satelit Nusantara, a leading Asian provider of satellite-based telecommunication services.

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Falcon 9's first stage for the Nusantara Satu mission previously supported the Iridium-7 mission in July 2018 and the SAOCOM 1A mission in October 2018. After SpaceX launches the craft into orbit, it will travel to the moon over the course of the next two months or so.

Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL's Beresheet lander separated 33 minutes after liftoff. That worldwide competition offered $30 million to whichever privately funded team could land a robotic spacecraft on the moon.

The United States, the former Soviet Union and China are the only three nations to date to have achieved controlled "soft" landings of spacecraft on the lunar surface. It will be the first such space capsule to land on the moon on a private initiative rather than on a government-funded enterprise. Once it lands, the probe will conduct various experiments on the Moon's surface, testing its magnetism and geology. That makes for a much longer trip; the moon right now is almost 230,000 miles (370,000 kilometers) away. While Musk has cornered the market on commercial rocket launches, SpaceIL and IAI are hoping to find a niche in low-priced moon landings, so space agencies or, one day, private individuals or organizations, could send cameras and research equipment to the moon for their own purposes. The company, inspired by SpaceIL's lunar ambitions, has developed commercial ambitions of its own regarding the moon.

"Successful deployment of Nusantara Satu to geosynchronous transfer orbit confirmed-completing SpaceX's 70th mission!" SSL is using an approach honed during a secret DARPA experiment past year that carried a smallsat into orbit aboard the geostationary communications satellite Hispasat-30W-6.

S5, built by Blue Canyon Technologies of Boulder, Colorado, is created to study the space environment, evaluating if low-priced satellites can improve knowledge of objects in geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometers above the Earth.

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