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ISRAEL’S FIRST LUNAR SPACECRAFT, BERESHEET, BLASTS OFF – ANALYSIS
Space exploration for Israel could have come to a grinding halt in 2003, when the country’s first astronaut, Ilan Ramon, perished with his American colleagues in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. It took years for the Israel space program to get back on track. But with this week’s launch of the SpaceIL lunar spacecraft, the sky is the limit.
Beresheet, the Jewish state’s first lunar spacecraft, was slated to blast off from the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida, overnight Thursday. It makes Israel only the fourth country after the US, the former Soviet Union and China to embark on such a mission, but it also will be the first such spacecraft to land on the moon funded by private initiative, rather than a solely government-funded enterprise.
Beresheet was to be launched as part of a payload on Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. After detaching from the launcher, it was then to begin its elliptical orbit of the Earth. After two months, it is set to land on the moon in the Mare Tranquillitatis plain (also known as the Sea of Tranquility), on April 11.