Published: Fri, February 22, 2019
Sci-tech | By April Francis

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

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

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

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying Israel's first spacecraft created to land on the moon lifts off on the first privately-funded lunar mission at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 21, 2019.

The 1.5-meter Beresheet is expected to land on the moon on April 11.

Once Beresheet completes its lunar mission, Israel would join superpowers China, Russia, and the United States in landing a spacecraft on the moon.

The payload also includes an Indonesian communications satellite called Nusantara Satu and a small experimental satellite belonging to the U.S. Air Force.

It's the third time this booster has been launched and landed, and marks SpaceX's 34th successful landing. Built by Blue Canyon Technologies, S5 will carry out a one-year mission aimed at demonstrating small-satellite capabilities in GEO for the USA military.

Upon landing, Beresheet should transmit data from the moon for about two days. If they miss the launch window, they have allotted backup time on Friday, February 22 at 8:41 p.m. EST.

The initial project was conceived in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition to successfully land an unmanned probe on the Moon, which was eventually discontinued before a victor was declared since no competitors were able to complete their projects by the March 31, 2018, deadline.

Musk added that SpaceX will use the booster for a fourth time in April for the Crew Dragon in-flight abort test. A time capsule is aboard the lander - which includes a picture of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who died aboard space shuttle Columbia in 2003 - as well as a lunar library containing 30 million pages on a disk from the US -based Arch Mission Foundation.

The lander, named Beresheet (meaning "in the beginning" in Hebrew), was built by the Israeli nonprofit organization SpaceIL, which began working on this mission in 2011 as a contestant in the Google Lunar X Prize.

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

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

"At SpaceIL we hope that the next generation of engineers and scientists will be able to bring Beresheet back to Earth", the company said.

If successful, Beresheet will end up as the prototype for a series of future moon landing missions planned jointly by IAI and Germany's OHB System on behalf of the European Space Agency. It's working on the Beresheet mission in collaboration with state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries, but the almost $100 million in funding for the mission has come from Israeli billionaire Morris Kahn, Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson and other philanthropists.

Like this: