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February 18, 2019 1:21 pm

Selfie-Taking Israeli Spacecraft to Take Off to the Moon This Week

avatar by Adi Pick / CTech

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An artist’s rendering of Israeli spacecraft Beresheet on the moon. Photo: Israel Aerospace Industries.

CTech – The first Israeli moon-landing spacecraft is planned to be carried into space this week, Israeli state-owned defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) and Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL announced Monday. The launch of the spacecraft called Beresheet — Hebrew for “Genesis” — will take place on Friday at around 8:45 p.m. Thursday East coast time.

Once landed on the moon, the spacecraft will begin taking photographs of the landing site, including a selfie.

Beresheet will be launched from the Cape Canaveral launch site. About 32 minutes later, the spacecraft will separate from the launcher and preliminary indications from the spacecraft will be sent to the control room located in Yehud, Israel.

The spacecraft will orbit the Earth and then travel 6.5 million kilometers, which IAI asserts is the longest distance ever traveled to the moon. The route will take about two months until the expected landing on April 11, two days after the Israeli elections.

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Beresheet was developed and constructed at a cost of only $100 million, according to IAI’s statements.

NASA has installed a laser retro-reflector on the spacecraft and will assist in communicating with it when it lands on the moon.

The spacecraft weighs 600 kilograms, 75 percent of which is made up of the fuel it carries. Its maximum speed will be 10 km per second.

SpaceIL was established in 2011 to compete in Google’s 10-year space race competition Lunar X Prize. After no team was able to achieve the required goals within the time frame set, the competition ended with no winners in January.

The nonprofit announced it would continue with its mission to land the first Israeli-made unmanned spacecraft on the moon.

The spacecraft will carry a time capsule to be left on the moon for an indefinite amount of time. The time capsule consists of three discs, each containing hundreds of digital files on topics including Israel’s Declaration of Independence, paintings by Israeli children, and dictionaries in 27 languages.

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