Published: Sat, February 23, 2019
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

SpaceX launches moon lander, lands booster despite tough conditions

SpaceX launches moon lander, lands booster despite tough conditions

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin wished the Israeli non-profit organization SpaceIL well on Thursday ahead of the launch of its unmanned robotic explorer, named "Beresheet", to the moon.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Florida on Thursday night carrying Israel's first lunar lander on a mission that, if successful, will make the Jewish state only the fourth nation to achieve a controlled touchdown on the moon's surface.

SpaceX is launching Israel's first mission to the moon tonight and live streaming the historic liftoff for fans.

Israel will launch its spacecraft dubbed "Beresheet", or "beginning" in Hebrew, in the nation's first mission to land on the Moon's surface. The journey to the surface of the moon is expected to take eight weeks. NASA has a laser reflector aboard Beresheet and is offering its Deep Space Network for communication.

The Beresheet mission originally was part of the Google Lunar XPrize competition and even made the final cut before the contest ended past year without a victor.

Previous missions have reached the moon much faster.

"We have a vision to show off Israel's best qualities to the entire world", Sylvan Adams, a SpaceIL donor and Canadian-Israeli philanthropist, said during a pre-launch briefing in Orlando, Florida, on Wednesday (Feb. 20).

During its first Falcon Heavy launch in February 2018, the firm landed two of the firms side boosters simultaneously on separate launchpads.

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How that would translate into seats would depend on where the votes were cast and how many Independent Group MPs were running. MPs will be given a chance to vote on Brexit on Wednesday - if not the final say on whether to accept the deal or not.

"This time, when we go to the Moon, we're actually going to stay", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said last week. NASA contributed the device to this mission as part of an agreement with SpaceIL that would allow the startup company to utilize the DSN for its moon mission.

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.

"We'll keep analysing the data, but bottom line is we entered the very exclusive group of countries that have launched a spacecraft to the moon", said Yigal Harel, head of SpaceIL's spacecraft program.

The $100 million Beresheet mission couldn't afford its own rocket - even a little one - so the organizers opted for a ride share.

"This is Uber-style space exploration, so we're riding shotgun on the rocket", Winetraub explained at a news conference on the eve of launch.

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

Also piggybacking on the flight will be a US Air Force experiment called Air Force Research Laboratory S5 - a microsatellite that's created to detect objects that orbit Earth near a region called geostationary orbit (which is about 22,300 miles away from the planet's surface).

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