Israel’s Beresheet (Hebrew word for “beginning”) spacecraft is set to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in February, and is expected to land on the lunar surface about two months later. This unmanned spacecraft means Israel join three other countries – the U.S., the Soviet Union and China – to have made successful ‘soft landings’ on the lunar surface. The landing also marks the first private mission to reach Earth’s natural satellite. Read more for another video and additional information.
Beresheet became a reality thanks to the $30-million Google Lunar XPRIZE competition to land an unmanned probe on the moon, which was unfortunately scrapped with no winner last year after the organizers said none of the five finalists would make the March 31, 2018 deadline for a Moon launch. The Israeli team continued the development of its 397-pound spacecraft nonetheless. Earlier this month, Beresheet was transported from Ben Gurion Airport in Israel to Orlando International Airport and eventually Cape Canaveral.
“Our ultimate aim is to create a profile of the magnetic field of the Moon and understand its origin,” said Weizmann Institute Professor and SpaceIL Mission Scientist Oded Aharonson, in a statement.