Israel spacecraft Beresheet will attempt Moon landing today.
– Israeli spacecraft Beresheet #SPACEIL fails to make soft landing on moon.
Just before the craft headed toward the surface, it captured the moon’s surface and sent back a “selfie” with Israel’s flag and the caption “Small Country, Big Dreams.”
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Israel launched its first lunar mission, a spacecraft called Beresheet, on Feb. 21, riding piggyback on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. It spent six weeks orbiting Earth in leisurely, ever-widening circles before slipping into orbit around the moon on April 4.
It remained there for a week, preparing for the defining moment of the mission: attempting to touch down softly on the moon’s surface.
If everything goes smoothly, Israel will join the U.S., the former Soviet Union and China in having softly landed on the lunar surface.
The spacecraft is targeting a landing site within Mare Serenitatis (the Sea of Serenity), a vast lava plain on the near side of the moon. Once Beresheet has touched down, it will remain active for a couple of Earth days before the mission ends in the heat of the long lunar day.
The Beresheet mission is an offshoot of the Google Lunar X Prize competition, which began in 2007 and challenged teams to rove on the moon’s surface.
The competition has already announced that if Beresheet’s landing goes as planned, the team will win a $1 million Moonshot Award.
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Originally posted 2019-04-13 10:45:43.