Genesis ("Beresheet" in Hebrew), Israel's first spacecraft on its way to landing on the moon, has some complications. After launching on Friday morning, engineers from SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries have found that vessel sensors required for navigation are too sensitive to sunlight. On Monday, they found another problem with the robotic spacecraft, which could slow down reaching the moon.
Around midnight between Monday and Tuesday Genesis had to do another maneuver to increase the radius of its orbit around the Earth. The maneuver had to be done automatically, as the spacecraft was in a sky area where there would be no contact with its controllers on the ground. But as the preparation for the maneuver was underway, the spacecraft's computer itself did an unplanned restart. Restarting canceled the maneuver and continued in its original orbit. Engineers responsible for Genesis operations analyze the data and try to understand what caused the restarting and what its consequences are.
Every time Genesis completes the orbit, she performs another maneuver designed to move it further than the ground by firing its engines for three minutes. The moon, with orbits in successively increasing distances from the Earth in a trajectory, resembling an elliptical spiral. The advantage of this method, which is based on the gravitational attraction of the Earth, is that it saves fuel.
Genesis is privately built by the non-profit group SpaceIL in cooperation with Israel Aeronautics Industries. SpaceIL's chief executive, Ido Anteby, told reporters in a conference call that Genesis's systems are navigating and calibrating navigational systems before the start of the maneuver. "At this point, the spacecraft's computer performed an independent reset, so the maneuver was canceled," he said.