In a bid to become the fourth country in the world to land a spacecraft on the surface of the moon, Israel is launching its spacecraft ‘Beresheet’ later this week. The project has been spearheaded by SpaceIL, a non-profit organization in Israel. It is in collaboration with the Israel Aerospace Industries, Israel’s prime aerospace and aviation manufacturer.
Interestingly, the spacecraft has been named after the first word of the Hebrew Bible – Beresheet – which means ‘in the beginning.’ This space mission could certainly be the beginning of major breakthroughs in space technology.
The unmanned spacecraft is 5 foot tall and weighs 1,300 pounds. It is set to be launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on board Space X’s Falcon 9 rocket. It is due to circle the Earth multiple times before getting onto the Moon’s orbit by 4th April. Subsequently, it will land onto the moon on 11th April.
The roots of this program trace back to the Google Lunar XPrize program that was announced in 2007. This program was set to award prize money of 30 million dollars to any private team that could successfully launch a craft onto the moon’s surface. This was the beginning of SpaceIL, a private organization that was found in 2011. Unfortunately, the team was not able to launch the craft within the stipulated deadline. However, it did not give up and still persisted with its efforts.
If successful, this mission will be the first by a private organization and the least expensive mission ever to the moon. The total cost of the mission is only 100 million dollars, a minuscule amount when compared to the billions of dollars that other nations have spent.
Only Russia, the United States, and China have been successful in sending their spacecraft on the moon.