Israel joins the rank of nations to have a successful lunar capture mission, with the Beresheet spacecraft being able to orbit the moon. The feat makes Israel the seventh country to do the maneuver.
On April 4, the Israeli spacecraft made it to the moon's orbit after six weeks of motioning away from the Earth. Amazing as it may seem, Israel is just getting started. On April 11, the little robot aims to actually land on the moon and hopefully be the first ever privately funded vehicle to do a soft landing.
"The lunar capture is an historic event in and of itself — but it also joins Israel in a seven-nation club that has entered the moon's orbit," says Morris Kahn, chairman of non-profit SpaceIL, which manages the Beresheet mission together with Israel Aerospace Industries. "Today I am proud to be an Israeli."
The Journey Of Beresheet
On Feb. 21, Beresheet flew to the orbit of the Earth, atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. For six weeks, it conducted numerous engine burns, pushing itself farther away from the Earth and closer to the moon.
The engine burn that propelled the spacecraft to victory began at around 10:18 a.m. on April 4 and lasted for about six minutes. The maneuver decreased the velocity of the vehicle relative to the moon, which made the lunar gravity capture Beresheet.
Ido Anteby, CEO of SpaceIL, says they have a long way to go, but he is sure that their team will be able to fulfill their mission of being the first Israeli spacecraft to land on the moon.
The next step is to lower the vehicle and prepare for touchdown, which will happen on the Sea of Serenity side. The operation on the lunar surface is expected to last for about two to three Earth days.
More Than Science: Goal To Inspire
Beresheet has an unusual goal. While typical space explorations are guided by scientific aims, the Israeli mission targets to inspire. The people behind this want to develop the space programs of their country and spark children's interest about science, technology, math, and engineering all around the world.
Beresheet also wants to contribute to human culture preservation. In fact, the vehicle contains a time capsule, which has a "lunar library" created by Arch Mission Foundation. The said library has data on different accumulated knowledge garnered on Earth and beyond.
"The Lunar Library contains a 30 million page archive of human history and civilization, covering all subjects, cultures, nations, languages, genres, and time periods," the foundation writes.
Beresheet spacecraft is fueled by national pride, civilization preservation, and aspiration to inspire. The world will surely be watching out for how the mission will progress in the coming weeks.