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Israeli Spacecraft Beresheet Completes Final Maneuver Before Moon Landing Bid

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Israel's Beresheet has completed its fourth and final maneuver to the moon's orbit just days before its scheduled lunar landing.

The spacecraft's engine was activated for 60 seconds and then proceeded to travel to a new orbit. Its current distance to Earth is approximately 252,000 miles or about 405,000 kilometers.

Closer To The Moon

SpaceIL said the spaceship had a one-minute burn of its main thruster at 8:30 a.m. EST on March 19.

"Another successful maneuver! The engine was activated for 60 sec and (sic) all systems are functioning. Beresheet is on an elliptical orbit, will meet the moon - the furthest point from Earth: 405,000 km (sic)," SpaceIL said in a statement.

The latest maneuver was performed a day ahead of its schedule. Small adjustments will be made on the Beresheet's orbit in the coming days.

Opher Doron, general of the space division of Israel Aerospace Industries, said they conducted few smaller maneuvers in preparation for the actual arrival to the moon.

"The main risk in the capturing maneuver is that if we do it the wrong way, the spacecraft will fly into open space, and we will lose it forever. It's a tough maneuver, and we have to do it right," Doron said.

By April 4, the spacecraft will have entered the moon's orbit. Beresheet is expected to land on April 11 at the Sea of Serenity.

Selfie Above

On March 5, the Beresheet's selfie camera took a photo of the Earth. The continent of Australia is seen clearly at a distance of 37,600 kilometers from the ground.

Included in the picture is a plaque bearing Israel's national flag and the phrase "Am Yisrael Chai, which translates to "The people of Israel live," and "Small country, big dreams."

If successful, Israel will be the fourth nation to have a successful moon landing together with the United States, Russia, and China.

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