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Israel aiming to land on moon with SpaceX launch

Israel aiming to land on moon with SpaceX launch

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

NASA's Apollo missions in the 1960s and 1970s took about three days to get astronauts to the moon, but they used monstrous Saturn V rockets.

It will take two months for Beresheet to reach the Mare Serenitatis on the Moon's northern hemisphere, where it will measure lunar magnetic anomalies and give the data to NASA once collected. The organization was founded by three engineers: Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari, and Yonatan Winetraub, who answered the global challenge presented by Google Lunar XPRIZE: to build, launch and land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon.

An Israeli nonprofit called SpaceIL designed and developed the 1,322-lb robot called Beresheet, which means "in the beginning" - the first words in the Bible. In addition to Kahn, Dr Miriam Adelson, an Israeli-American doctor and philanthropist, and her husband, casino magnate and investor Sheldon Adelson, contributed $US24 million to keep the lunar lander soaring. The rocket will launch from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. A company representative declined to comment on SpaceIL's mission ahead of launch, but noted that the "webcast will have more to say on the mission".

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

The 32-minute launch window opens at 8:45 p.m. EST, or 1:45 UTC on February 22.

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The retroreflector is not the only payload on board Beresheet that is created to stand the test of time.

Shortly before the main PSN-6 satellite was deployed from Falcon 9's upper stage, one of SpaceX's launch network operators verbally confirmed that SpaceIL's Beresheet lander had established communications with the ground and successfully deployed its landing legs in orbit, one tangible step closer to the first attempted commercial Moon landing. The satellite is Indonesia's first high-throughput satellite.

Beresheet will circle Earth six or seven times in a series of growing ellipses before jumping into the moon's orbit and hopefully landing in the Sea of Tranquility on April 11. Once it lands, the probe will conduct various experiments on the Moon's surface, testing its magnetism and geology. Falcon 9 will also deliver the Beresheet lunar spacecraft and Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) S5 spacecraft to orbit. This graphic reveals just how big it is - and what's out there.

Just a few minutes after Falcon 9 launched from Cape Canaveral, the first and second stages separated and the booster stage fell back to Earth, using its thrusters to slow its reentry and land safely on SpaceX's Of Course I Still Love You droneship.

"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.