SpaceX Launches Multi-Pronged Mission, Including Israeli Lunar Lander

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off with Israel's Lunar Lander and an Indonesian communications satellite at space launch complex 40 Thursday Feb. 21 2019 in Cape Canaveral Fla. An Israeli spacecraft blasted off to the moon in an attempt to make

SpaceX Is Launching Israel's First Mission to the Moon Tonight

NASA, which has installed equipment on Beresheet to upload its signals from the Moon, said last week it aims to land instruments later this year or next year and that it is inviting private sector bids to build and launch the United States probes.

This major liftoff, which will take place at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 8:45 p.m. EST, will begin Israel's first eight-week journey to the moon.

For Israel, the landing itself is the main mission, but the spacecraft also carries a scientific instrument to measure the lunar magnetic field, which will help understanding of the Moon's formation. Last month Israel Aerospace Industries partnered with German spacecraft builder OHB to offer a version of the lander it built for SpaceIL to the European Space Agency for commercial delivery of payloads to the moon's surface.

"We thought it's about time for a change, and we want to get little Israel all the way to the moon", said Yonatan Winetraub, co-founder of Israel's SpaceIL, a nonprofit organization behind the effort. Eastern, deploying the Beresheet lunar lander 33 minutes later, and the Nusantara Satu telecom satellite with the S5 experimental smallsat almost 45 minutes after liftoff. Mounted on the spacecraft is a laser retroreflector, a mirroring device that requires no power and can be used for space-to-ground communications via NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN).

The Beresheet mission originally was part of the Google Lunar XPrize competition and even made the final cut before the contest ended a year ago without a victor.

"In religion and ethics, science and scholarship, we have long reached for the stars; now we are rightfully reaching the moon".

"At SpaceIL we hope that the next generation of engineers and scientists will be able to bring Beresheet back to Earth", the company said. "Tiny, tiny Israel is about to become the fourth nation to land on the moon, and this is a remarkable thing because we continue to demonstrate our ability to punch far above our weight and to show off our skills, our innovation [and] our creativity in tackling any hard problem that could possibly exist".

"We are building a coalition of nations to return to the moon sustainably,"Bridenstines said, adding on, "This time when we go, we're going to stay". It aims to put a craft with a rover onto the Moon's surface to collect data. NASA contributed the device to this mission as part of an agreement with SpaceIL that would allow the startup company to utilize the DSN for its moon mission. Two minutes after it separates from the rocket, Beresheet will communicate for the first time with the mission's control center in Yehud, Israel. That includes a copy of Hebrew Bible, Hebrew songs, artwork created by Israeli children and a photo of Ilan Ramon, Israel's first and only astronaut.

Nusantara Satu is a 4,100-kilogram communications satellite equipped with C- and Ku-band transponders, mainly for broadband connectivity.

The rocket also contains an Indonesian satellite and a satellite of the US Air Force Research Laboratory.

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