Israel's First Lunar Lander Launched Into Space From Florida

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There are no plans for Beresheet to leave the moon, so its creators have also added historical, cultural, and scientific materials on three disks to serve as a sort of time capsule and monument to the first Israeli spacecraft.

Israelis swelled with pride overnight as many woke in the predawn hours to watch the Beresheet lunar spacecraft lift off from Cape Canaveral, Florida atop a SpaceX rocket. The 1,290-pound (585 kg) spacecraft was built by Israeli nonprofit space venture SpaceIL and state-owned defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) with $100 million furnished nearly entirely by private donors.

It is also carrying an Indonesian telecommunications satellite and an experimental US Air Force satellite. The company designed and built the 1,322-pound lunar lander called "Beresheet", which means "in the beginning" (the first words in the Bible). According to SpaceX, Falcon 9 B1048's third successful launch and landing faced the Block 5 booster with "some of the most challenging reentry conditions to date".

So far, only Russian Federation, the United States and China have made the 239,000-mile journey to Earth's giant, dusty satellite.

If Beresheet's landing is successful, it will make Israel the fourth nation to land a spacecraft on the moon. "The superpowers who managed to land a spacecraft on the Moon have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in government funding", IAI said in an earlier statement.

"Initial data was received in the control room in Yehud [Israel], the spacecraft's legs deployed as planned and Beresheet started in-orbit tests while cruising to the moon", Nimrod Sheffer, CEO of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), said in a statement.

The spacecraft will slingshot around Earth for about six weeks, firing thrusters to stretch out its orbit with every pass until it can be captured by the moon's gravity.

SpaceIL co-founder Yonatan Weintraub told Fox News in a statement, "After more than eight years of working with brilliant engineers, we are finally ready to launch our spacecraft to the Moon!"

Bad weather threatened the recovery of the first-stage booster, but after 8-and-a-half minutes following launch, the booster successfully landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

A historic Israeli moon mission appears to be going well so far, though one possible hiccup has cropped up.

It will attach to Nusantara Satu then deploy when they are both in orbit.

Beresheet is created to spend just two to three days using on-board instruments to photograph its landing site and measure the moon's magnetic field.

Beresheet will travel approximately 4 million miles on its journey, circling the earth multiple times to gain speed before it slingshots toward the moon. NASA has a laser reflector aboard Beresheet and is offering its Deep Space Network for communication.