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April 1, 2019 10:38 am

Israeli Spacecraft Beresheet Passes Earth One Last Time Before Lunar Capture

avatar by Lilach Baumer / CTech

An image of the Earth and Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft en route to the Moon. Photo: screenshot.

CTech – Israeli spacecraft Beresheet has passed close to earth — only 1,700 kilometers away — for the last time on Sunday, SpaceIL, the Israeli non-profit organization that developed the craft, announced Monday.

The engineering teams of SpaceIL and its partner in the project, Israeli state-owned defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), completed a 72-second maneuver intended to achieve synchronization with the moon on Monday at 9am, the two said, and are currently examining the results to see whether an additional alignment maneuver is needed.

Beresheet is scheduled to reach the Moon’s orbit on Thursday and enter its gravity by performing lunar capture. The craft is expected to land on the moon on April 11.

Beresheet was originally developed to compete in Google’s 10-year space race competition Lunar X Prize, but no craft was developed before the competition’s deadline. On Thursday, California-based non-profit the X Prize Foundation announced it will hand out a $1 million prize to SpaceIL if Beresheet completes the landing safely. IAI estimated the development of Beresheet at $100 million.

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