Watch SpaceX Launch the First Private Lunar Lander Mission

Watch SpaceX Launch the First Private Lunar Lander Mission

Watch SpaceX Launch the First Private Lunar Lander Mission

SpaceX has sent the first privately funded lunar lander on its way to the Moon following an evening launch from Canaveral Air Force station.

Israel-based organization SpaceIL had its lander, Beresheet, launched successfully at 8:45 p.m. on February 21, starting its 40-day journey to the moon.

Just a few minutes after Falcon 9 launched from Cape Canaveral, the first and second stages separated and the booster stage fell back to Earth, using its thrusters to slow its reentry and land safely on SpaceX's Of Course I Still Love You droneship.

A Falcon 9 rocket carrying an Israeli rover is expected to reach the moon sometime in April.

The Falcon 9 was on its third flight having launched the Iridium-7 mission in July 2018 and the SAOCOM 1A mission the following October.

The scheme, which grew out of a drunken conversation in Tel Aviv less than a decade ago, would be the first private space mission ever to reach the moon.

"Beresheet is the first spacecraft to land on the Moon as a result of a private initiative, rather than a government". The company is competing with Boeing be the first to ferry American astronauts to the International Space Station as part of NASA's Commercial Crew program.

So far, only Russian Federation, the United States and China have made the 239,000-mile journey to Earth's giant, dusty satellite.

In addition to the Beresheet lunar lander, the rocket successfully delivered the Indonesian Nusantara Satu telecommunications satellite and the S5 experimental smallsat owned by the US Air Force.

Israeli Aerospace Industries director of Space division Opher Doron speaks in front a spacecraft weighing some 585 kilogrammes (1,300 pounds) during a presentation by Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL ...

SpaceIL does not plan to continue after this mission. Once this is complete, it will head for the Moon and it will orbit it too several times before landing in the Mare Serenitatis region in the Moon's northern hemisphere.

Beresheet also carries a time capsule that contains, among other items, a "lunar library" provided by the Arch Mission Foundation, which seeks to preserve human knowledge for eons by storing it in various off-Earth locales. Beresheet is also set to place the Israeli flag on the lunar surface and take some snaps before the mission ends two days later.

After China earlier this year, and now Israel, India hopes to become the fifth lunar country in the spring with its Chandrayaan-2 mission.

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