Jerusalem, Feb 25 : Israel's first Lunar spacecraft successfully completed its first manoeuvre toward the Moon after detaching from its launcher and completing its planned orbit of Earth.
Beresheet, Hebrew for “Genesis”, completes an orbit it executes another manoeuvre, designed to move it further away from earth. After two months, it is set to land in the Sea of Serenity, on April 11.
Scientists and technical staff at Israel Aerospace Industries headquarters were notified of the spacecraft’s high sensitivity toward the sun’s rays in the star trackers on board, but are hopeful that this issue can be resolved en route to the Moon, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Sunday’s manoeuvre toward the Moon took into account those problems identified by the star-tracker systems, and scientists decided to move forward with the mission.
Beresheet, with the go ahead from mission control, turned on its engine for the first time and successfully made its first manoeuvre toward the Moon just 69,400 km. (43,000 miles) from Earth’s surface. The spacecraft during this manoeuvre will at some point will come within 600 km of Earth’s surface as it prepares for its next planned manoeuvre on Monday night.
Israel made its first step to the Moon late Thursday night, as the lunar spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in a mission that, if successful, will place the Jewish state in an exclusive club of nations capable of landing on the lunar surface.
If successful, the landing on the Moon will make Israel the fourth country to land on the lunar surface, after the former Soviet Union, the United States and China. It will be the first such space capsule to land on the Moon as the result of a private initiative, rather than a government-funded enterprise.
The project has been spearheaded by SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries and has been in the making for several years. The spacecraft is the smallest such craft by weight (around 1,300 lbs.) and measures only 1.5 meters by 2 meters. It cost only $100 million – far less than other larger and more expensive lunar spacecraft.
“For many months, our teams and IAI’s were engaged in testing the spacecraft and its systems, conducting complex experiments and preparing for every possible scenario of the mission,” SpaceIL CEO Ido Antebi said.
The spacecraft will traverse the longest distance ever to the Moon – some 6.5 million km. (around four million miles) before it lands. Beresheet will hurdle through space at up to speeds of 10 km. per second (36,000 km/hr).
Beresheet is scheduled to be stationed on the Moon for generations to come. (UNI)