UPDATED: The final element on the Israeli spacecraft called “Beresheet” (“Genesis”) has been installed, a digital time capsule consisting of three discs containing the Torah, Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikvah”, an Israeli flag, Holocaust testimony and much more.
– Beresheet is set to blast off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in early 2019, making Israel the 4th country to carry out a controlled “soft” moon landing, after the U.S., Russia, and China.
Israeli engineers on Monday added the final element to a spacecraft destined for the moon – a digital time capsule – saying they aim to send the craft up early next year and land it between the landing sites of Apollo 15 and 17.
It will be the first attempted moon landing since 2013, and if successful, will make Israel the fourth country to carry out a controlled “soft” landing of an unmanned vessel on the moon.
Since 1966, the United States and the former Soviet Union have landed around a dozen vessels on the moon, while China carried out the last “soft” landing, in December 2013.
“The spacecraft is completely built, tested … and will be ready to ship to Cape Canaveral in a few weeks,” said Ido Anteby, CEO of SpaceIL, the non-profit organization that has led the project.
Israel has launched satellites before, but this is the first longer-range Israeli spacecraft of its kind.
The craft, called “Beresheet” (“Genesis”), is shaped like a round table with four carbon-fiber legs. It stands about 1.5 meters tall and weighs 585 kilograms (1,290 pounds), with fuel accounting for two-thirds of the weight.
According to the SPACEIL news release, “The time capsule consists of three discs, each containing hundreds of digital files. Included among the files, which will travel to the moon inside SpaceIL’s lunar spacecraft, are: Details about the spacecraft and the crew building it; national symbols, like Israel’s Declaration of Independence, the Bible, Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikvah”, and the Israeli flag; cultural objects; materials – paintings, for example – collected over many years from the public for sending to the moon; dictionaries in 27 languages and encyclopedias, an indication of knowledge accumulated by all humanity thus far; Israeli songs; the Wayfarer’s Prayer; books of art and science and Israeli literature; information about Israeli scientific and technological discoveries and developments that influenced the world; photos Israel’s landscapes and of leading figures in Israeli culture; a children’s book that was inspired by SpaceIL’s mission to the moon.
“The time capsule, along with the spacecraft, will remain on the Moon indefinitely, even after completing Israel’s first lunar mission. With no plans to return to Earth, the spacecraft and information within the time capsule’s disks will possibly be found and distributed by future generations.“
The spacecraft also carried a device to measure the moon’s magnetic fields.
SpaceIL is backed mainly by private donors, including from the United States. It was founded in 2011 by a group of engineers with a budget of about $95 million. State-owned defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries has collaborated in the project.
Beresheet will blast off from Florida on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket early in 2019, after an initial December date was pushed back. At 60,000 kilometers (37,000 miles) above Earth, it will split off from the Falcon launch vehicle. It will at first orbit Earth in expanding ellipses until, about two months later, it crosses into the moon’s orbit. It will then slow and carry out a soft landing designed to cause no damage to the craft.
“Our landing site is located somewhere between the landing sites of Apollo 15 and Apollo 17,” Anteby said. “It’s a flat area, but it still has small craters and a lot of boulders.”
View original Israel Hayom publication at:
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