tech2 News StaffApr 08, 2019 18:10:05 IST
Israel's first mission to the Moon — the Beresheet spacecraft — has completed its long and winding journey out of Earth's orbit and entered the Moon's orbit on 4 April, pulling off an important manoeuvre ahead of its planned soft landing on the Moon next week.
The SpaceIL team leading the mission celebrated the successful milestone, called "lunar capture", by releasing some stunning images of the Moon's far side taken by the spacecraft.
The lunar capture move shifted the Beresheet spacecraft into an elliptical orbit around the Moon, bringing it as close as 500 kilometres from the Moon's surface.
A tweep enquires about whether the view gave the mission team any information about life on the Moon, prompting an interesting no-comment response from them.
We are legally prohibited from commenting on this subject. https://t.co/G6evnZoYac
— Israel To The Moon (@TeamSpaceIL) April 8, 2019
The spacecraft is aiming to make history twice: as the first private-sector Moon landing, and the first from Israel.
The NGO SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries launched Beresheet (Hebrew for Genesis) from Cape Canaveral Air Force base in Florida on 22 February on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
SpaceIL's chosen landing site for Beresheet on the moon. Image courtesy: NASA/The Planetary Society
So far, only Russia, the United States and China have made the 384,000-kilometre (239,000-mile) journey and landed on the Moon.
"The lunar capture is a historic event in and of itself – but it also joins Israel in a seven-nation club that has entered the Moon's orbit," SpaceIL chairman Morris Kahn told Agence-France Presse. "A week from today we'll make more history by landing on the Moon, joining three superpowers who have done so."
Kahn is expected to speak about the mission and answer questions in an interactive YouTube Live session at 7 pm IST (4.30 pm local time in Israel).
For Israel, the landing itself is the main mission, followed by the spacecraft carrying out some measurements of the lunar magnetic field using a scientific instrument onboard.
It also carries a "time capsule", loaded with digital files containing a Bible, children's drawings, Israeli songs, memories of a Holocaust survivor and the blue-and-white Israeli flag.
With inputs from AFP
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