The Beresheet spacecraft has successfully completed a maneuver en route to the moon, extending its distance to 131,000 kilometers from Earth.
Israel Aerospace Industries or IAI and SpaceIL engineers completed the task at 3:11 p.m. local time. The lunar lander is scheduled for another operation next week.
Everything Goes As Planned
Beresheet encountered a system glitch Feb. 25, but SpaceIL CEO Ido Anteby said the lander is right on its schedule. If everything goes as expected, it will reach the moon's surface on April 11.
"We managed to find our way around several problems that we had these last few days. It's quite normal for a new spacecraft to have some teething problems in its first days and we've overcome them all," said Opher Doron, Space Division general manager at IAI.
Doron said that they anticipate some technical problems because there are events in space that cannot be tested or simulated.
Only the United States, Russia, and China were able to land on the lunar surface to date. If Beresheet attains its mission, it will be the first private sector landing on the moon and the first from Israel.
"Israel actually has quite a good footprint in orbit around earth, both for defense reasons and communication reasons," said Oded Aharonson, professor of planetary science at the California Institute of Technology and the director of the Center for Planetary Sciences at the Weizmann Institute of Science.
The project costs approximately $95 million, with the majority of the funding coming from private philanthropists.
Meanwhile, NASA is planning to make its comeback to the moon by sending an unmanned vehicle by 2024. Part of the plan is to build a space station on the moon's orbit that will serve as a base for all trips to and from the lunar surface.