SpaceX Falcon 9 aces launch and landing after "most challenging reentry" yet

The organization was founded by three engineers: Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari, and Yonatan Winetraub, who answered the worldwide challenge presented by Google Lunar XPRIZE: to build, launch and land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon.

It successfully blasted off on schedule Thursday night, before separating from the second stage and landing back down on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship for its such accomplishment.

For this launch, SpaceX plans to reuse a rocket booster that's already flown twice.

SpaceX set a company record past year with 21 launches for customers including commercial satellite operators and the US military.

A communications satellite for Indonesia was the main cargo aboard the Falcon 9 rocket, which illuminated the sky as it took flight. Space Systems Loral took on that responsibility, signing up rideshare broker Spaceflight Inc. of Seattle, Washington, which then secured Israel's 600-kilogram Beresheet lander and the Air Force Research laboratory's 60-kilogram S5 smallsat.

NASA, which has installed equipment on Beresheet to upload its signals from the Moon, said last week it aims to land instruments later this year or next year and that it is inviting private sector bids to build and launch the United States probes.

"We thought it's about time for a change, and we want to get little Israel all the way to the moon", said Yonatan Winetraub, co-founder of Israel's SpaceIL, a nonprofit organisation behind the effort.

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About 30 minutes after liftoff, the spacecraft will disengage from the SpaceX Falcon 9 at around 60,000 kilometers above Earth's surface, beginning, under its own power, a two-month voyage to the Moon's surface.

A time capsule is aboard the lander - which includes a picture of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who died aboard space shuttle Columbia in 2003 - as well as a lunar library containing 30 million pages on a disk from the US -based Arch Mission Foundation.

If successful, Israel will be only the fourth country ever to land a spacecraft successfully on the moon.

SpaceX has launched an Israeli spacecraft on a history-making trip to the moon.

Beresheet will also collect pictures and video while in space, during its descent and while it's on the moon, and it needs those two days to send all the data home to Earth. "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. The company, inspired by SpaceIL's lunar ambitions, has developed commercial ambitions of its own regarding the moon.

So far, only the US, Russia and China have landed spacecrafts on the moon. The satellite, built by SSL for Asian telecommunications company PT Pasifik Satelit Nusantara (PSN), will be used to hopefully improve internet connectivity across the Indonesian archipelago.

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