You might remember the name SpaceIL from its participation in the Google Lunar X Prize* contest in 2011. Their mission was to launch a craft to land on the moon. Here in 2019, they’re on the cusp of accomplishing that goal. On 22 February 2019 at 0145 UTC they launched, and on 4 April at 1418 UTC they entered lunar orbit.
This week SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced they were on-track with their lunar mission בראשית (pronounced Beresheet). SpaceIL is the nonprofit group behind the launch of the mission, and IAI are the Israeli equivalent of NASA. The name בראשית is prounounced “beresheet” and is roughly translated from Hebrew to English to mean “Genesis” – aka the beginning.
Above you’ll see a broadcast from mission control at the IAI, below you’ll see a promotional video for the program. Therein is encouragement for the next generation of Israeli (and non-Israeli alike) children to head for the stars. Also note: All photos in this article were captured by the Beresheet spacecraft in transit to the moon!
At the point at which this article is first posted, the SpaceIL crew had not yet landed on the moon. It’s expected that they will land on the moon on April 11th, 2019. Even before they DO land on the moon, they’ve made history as the first Israeli spacecraft to travel beyond Earth’s orbit.
If they land on the moon, they’ll be the fourth country to make the landing (USA, USSR, China). They’re also poised to be the first ever private group (non-governmental group) to land a spacecraft on the moon. They’re expected to make their landing at 11 p.m. Israel time on April 11 (4 p.m, EDT).
*You might also remember that Google Lunar XPrize extended the deadline for the contest in August 2017. They moved the original date forward to 31 March 2018, but no group accomplished the original goal. SpaceIL was not deterred! Now they’re about to land on the moon one way or the other!