Beresheet heads for historic lunar landing

Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong was in graver danger of being stranded on the moon than the public has been told according to the Orlando Sentinel

First privately funded spacecraft ‘is about to land on the moon’

The craft, weighing 585 kg (1,290 lbs) fully fueled at liftoff, would be the smallest spacecraft ever to land on the lunar surface, and is a boxy structure 1.5 meters (5 feet) high and 2 meters (6.5 feet) wide (about the size of a washing machine) with four reverse-tripod landing legs and covered with gold multi-layer insulation.

Once Genesis touches the lunar surface, Israel will have entered the history books as only the fourth country to successfully land a spacecraft on the moon, sharing the honor with far larger countries with much deeper pockets - the U.S., China and Russian Federation.

Beresheet separated from the second stage and was activated successfully, and started its seven-week journey to the Moon.

Beresheet began as a dream by three young engineers - Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yehonatan Weintraub - and not a government program, making it the first privately funded space probe to shoot for the moon.

Last week, Beresheet successfully exited the earth's orbit and let the moon's gravitational force draw it into it's own orbit.

The IAA arrivals timetable showing the expected moon landing.

So far, only three other nations have carried out controlled "soft" landings of spacecraft on the lunar surface - the United States, the former Soviet Union and China.

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Beresheet is set to land in an area on the moon known as Mare Serenitatis because this region is supposed to have some "magnetic anomalies" that the Israeli teams hope to analyze using an onboard magnetometer.

During landing and whilst on the surface, the craft will also take magnetic readings of the lunar rocks to help unlock secrets of the moon's origin.

The Beresheet spacecraft is seen during a presentation by Israeli non-profit SpaceIL on December 17, 2018 in Yehud, east of Tel Aviv.

The craft will be armed with instruments to measure the moon's magnetism, says Oded Aharonson who is heading the mission's science team.

"It was very hard to raise money for this mission because it was really a mission impossible", said South African-Israeli philanthropist Morris Kahn, the president of SpaceIL, ahead of the launch in February. SpaceIL's launch contract with SpaceX and Spaceflight Industries was finalized and the mission was slotted to fly along with the Indonesian Nusantara Satu and USAF AFRL S5 satellites on a Falcon 9 Block 5.

The maneuver, which was performed at 7:40 pm Israel time, lowered the spacecraft's altitude in preparation for its landing tomorrow.

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