Will Israel Reach the Moon?

22 Feb 2019

For decades, the moon was the exclusive domain of the superpowers. The Soviet Union landed Luna 2 on the moon in 1959. The United States landed Ranger 4 three years later. These were both “hard landings” (i.e., crash landings); both countries made “soft landings” (i.e., controlled descents) in 1966, followed by China five decades later, in 2013. Now Israel looks to be the fourth nation to land on the moon.

Israel’s non-profit SpaceIL launched its spacecraft from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on February 21. The unmanned craft, which weighs 1,300 pounds and stands five feet tall, was launched on a Falcon 9 rocket. It will take seven weeks for the craft to reach the moon, where it will send back images and conduct experiments on the lunar magnetic field.

The spacecraft is called “Beresheet,” meaning “In the beginning…,” the first word of the Bible in Hebrew. Beresheet is expected to land on the moon April 11.

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