Aiming to become the fourth country to make a soft landing on the moon, SpaceIL will launch a spacecraft from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Thursday on board a Falcon 9 rocket.
The spacecraft—called “Beresheet,” a reference to the first words of the Bible in Hebrew: “In the beginning…”—will take nearly two months to reach the moon.
Beresheet will circle Earth in loops until it’s captured by lunar gravity and goes into orbit around the moon. The touchdown would be April 11 at the Sea of Serenity, from where it will send back images of the rocky surface and conduct experiments on the lunar magnetic field.
Its first task, however, will be to plant an Israeli flag on the moon.
“This is the #Bible going to the #Moon. It’s actually on a flash drive. It also contains the Declaration of Independence, the Israeli flag and images of historic Israeli milestones. #IsraelToTheMoon”, SpaceIL tweeted.
If Israel’s spacecraft venture proceeds as planned, it would become the fourth country after Russia, the US and China, — and by far the smallest — country to do so.
It would also become the first private enterprise to make a controlled landing on the moon, with the smallest spacecraft to do it, and by far the least expensive mission.
The total cost of the program, raised from private donations, is $100 million, a small fraction of the billions of dollars invested in the US space program.
“This mission that we were talking about was really a mission impossible,” said entrepreneur Morris Kahn, who donated $40 million to the project.
“The only thing is I didn’t realize it was impossible, and the three engineers that started this project didn’t think it was impossible, and the way Israel thinks, nothing is impossible… We are really making this dream come true.”
Perhaps Beresheet should have been called “Chutzpah.”