Life Tech SpaceX rocket launches Israeli spacecraft to the moon
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SpaceX rocket launches Israeli spacecraft to the moon

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The privately funded lunar lander mission will make Israel only the fourth country to land on the moon, after the former USSR, the U.S. and China.
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Israel has set its sights on the moon, hitching a ride on SpaceX pioneer Elon Musk’s Falcon 9 commercial rocket and successfully deploying its first home-grown spacecraft.

The workhorse rocket launched three spacecraft on Friday (AEDT) from Cape Canaveral, Florida including Israel’s 585-kilogram moon lander’s mission to became the fourth nation to reach the lunar surface.

Social media sites and SpaceX live-streamed the launch of the Falcon 9.

After it disengages from the rocket, the craft will travel around the Earth and the moon several times. It will later reduce its speed when it reaches the moon’s orbit and it is hoped the moon’s gravity will pull it in.

The unmanned robotic lander, ‘Beresheet’, a Hebrew name for the biblical phrase ‘in the beginning’, lifted off at 12.45pm (AEDT) on the two-staged, re-flight capable Falcon 9 Rocket.

Watch the Nusantara Satu mission launch here:

The lunar landing is expected to put Israel on the space industry map. The nation’s only astronaut, Ilan Ramon, was among the seven-member crew of the space shuttle Columbia when it disintegrated upon re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere in 2003.

A successful mission would result in the dishwasher-sized Beresheet arriving on the nearside of the moon – the hemisphere permanently turned towards Earth – in mid April after a two-month long journey spanning 6.5 million kilometres of spaces.

If it makes landfall, the copper coated spacecraft will spend just two to three days using on-board instruments to photograph its landing side and measure its magnetic field.

A time capsule, including a ‘Lunar Library’ with drawings by Israeli children, pictures of Israeli symbols including the flag, songs and a booklet by a Jewish man of his personal account of the Holocaust will also be in tow.

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A time capsule on the Beresheet. Photograph: Getty

Beresheet’s creators, the non-profit SpaceIL and state-owned defence contractor Israel Aerospace Industries, were given almost $US100 million by private donors as well as California-based SpaceX’s support.

Morris Kahn, SpaceIL’s president and its largest investor said the first commercial non-government flight to the moon would contribute significantly to future space exploration.

U.S space agency NASA will receive the data and relay it to SpaceIL’s Israel-based ground station Yuhud.

To date only three other nations have carried out similar “soft” landings of spacecraft on the moon.

The first by the former Soviet Union in 1966, American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in 1969 and China in 2013, with the first-ever landing on the far side of the moon last month, were all government endeavours.

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Space X founder Elon Musk. Photo: Getty

The Falcon 9 will also launch to Earth’s orbit the communications satellite PSN-6 (Nusantara Satu) for Indonesian company PT Satelik Nusantara and an experimental U.S Air Force satellite called S5.

SpaceX has also started its first stage return of its Falcon 9 rocket to Earth with the booster expected to land on the company’s droneship ‘Of Course I still Love You’ in the Atlantic Ocean to use later.