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Israel Successfully Launches First Moon Lander

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Israel’s first spacecraft, designed to land on the moon, was successfully launched from the U.S. Kennedy Space Centre on Friday, Israeli officials said.

The dishwasher-size lander, dubbed Beresheet, or Genesis in Hebrew, was launched at 8:45 p.m. local time on Thursday (0145 GMT Friday) aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who followed the liftoff at the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) control room in Israel’s central town of Yahud, described the launch as “a huge step for Israeli technology.’’

At the dining room of the IAI, hundreds of workers and their children broke into applause and cries of joy at the liftoff.

Israel seeks to become the fourth country in the world, after Russia, the U.S. and China, to land a spacecraft on the moon.

If successful, Beresheet would be the first privately-funded spacecraft to make the moon landing.

The 585-kg and 1.5-meter-high spacecraft will eject a robotic vehicle that will tour the surface of moon.

Its journey to the moon will take almost two months, with landing expected on April 11, according to the Israeli Science and Technology Ministry.

After landing, Beresheet will start carrying out scientific experiments on the lunar surface, including measuring and mapping the moon’s magnetic field, the ministry said.

The spacecraft was built by SpaceIL, an Israeli non-profit space venture and the state-owned defence contractor IAI, with a budget of 100 million U.S. dollars raised almost entirely by SpaceIL.

 

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