An artist’s impression of the Israeli Beresheet lander on the surface of the moon. Image: SpaceIL
Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft, launch in February as a secondary payload aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, braked into orbit around the moon 4 April, one week before a planned landing attempt 11 April on Mare Serenitatis.
Beresheet – Genesis – is the first non-superpower, privately-funded spacecraft to attempt a moon landing. If successful, Israel, through the non-profit SpaceIL and spacecraft builder Israel Aerospace Industries, will become only the fourth nation to send an operational spacecraft to the surface of the moon.
“After six weeks in space, we have succeeded in overcoming another critical stage by entering the moon’s gravity,” Ido Anteby, SpaceIL CEO, said in a statement. “We still have a long way until the lunar landing, but I‘m convinced our team will … land the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon, making us all proud.”
Launched Feb. 21, Beresheet was released into a highly elliptical Earth orbit. The spacecraft’s main engine then was used to incrementally raise the high point of the orbit until it intersected the moon’s.
Flight controllers applaud after a successful engine firing that put the Beresheet lunar lander in ...