SpaceX rocket blasts off carrying Israeli lunar lander

SpaceIL's Beresheet spacecraft undergies tests before the big launch

If the mission succeeds, it could unlock information the moon's iron core.

Winetraub pointed out that the moon and the earth had to be in sync before the rocket could launch, adding, "The moon is coming around, and we're doing our own orbit, and we need to synchronize everything".

A Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Thursday night at 8:45 p.m. (ET) carrying the privately-funded Beresheet lunar lander. "After the launch, our crew will take control of Beresheet and begin the journey to the moon!"

In a tweet, the company said simply: "Liftoff!" The 1,290-pound (585-kg) spacecraft was built by Israeli nonprofit space venture SpaceIL and state-owned defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) with $100 million furnished nearly entirely by private donors.

Beresheet separation Beresheet separated from its Falcon 9 launch vehicle and the Nusantara Satu/S5 satellite stack 34 minutes after launch on 22 February 2018.

Once launched, the spacecraft will enter a gradually widening Earth orbit that will eventually bring the probe within the moon's gravitational pull, setting the stage for a series of additional maneuvers leading to an automated touchdown.

"Following stage separation, SpaceX will attempt to land Falcon 9's first stage on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean". The two others are a telecommunications satellite for Indonesia and an experimental satellite for the U.S. Air Force.

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Falcon 9 will drop off the lander at about 60,000km.

The Israeli craft Beresheet, which competed in the Google Lunar XPrize, will travel to the moon after deployment using its own power.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying Israel's first spacecraft created to land on the moon lifts off on the first privately-funded lunar mission at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 21, 2019.

If successful, the mission will make Israel the world's fourth country to land on the Moon, after Russian Federation, the United States, and China. Launching the refurbished booster for a third time could net SpaceX millions (if not tens of millions) of dollars.

The rocket left the pad at Space Launch Complex 40 at 01:45 UTC, marking the first launch for SpaceX from the facility in 2019.

Beresheet's lengthy stay in Earth orbit may seem surprising.

Beresheet will study the local magnetic field during its lunar approach and its two-Earth-day mission on the moon's surface. The spacecraft is also equipped with the ability to "hop" short distances on the moon, and engineers say they're confident it carries the fuel to do so.

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