Israel is hoping to become the fourth country in the world to land a spacecraft on the moon with the launch of the unmanned spacecraft Beresheet from the Florida Cape Canaveral this Friday. Successfully, the 40-pound 160-pound spacecraft (350 pounds without fuel) will be the smallest and cheapest spacecraft to land on the Moon. SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries, funded almost entirely by private donations from well-known Jewish philanthropists, including South African billionaire Morris Kahn, Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, Lynn Schusterman and others.
Before that, Russia (like the Soviet Union) and the United States landed on the moon. In 201
Beresheet will escape from Cape Canaveral at about 3:45 am on Friday morning (20:45 EST EST) and will board one of the launches of Elon Musk
. take off Muskan Sokol's rocket 9 in about half an hour and start your seven-week trip to the moon. Beresheet will walk the Earth six or seven times in a series of rising ellipses before jumping into the moon's orbit on April 4th.
Beresheet will land on the moon between the detritus left by the Apollo 12 and 15 missions in the sea of tranquility, on April 11 at about 8 pm, give or take an hour, according to SpaceIL Executive Director Dr. Ido Anteby.
"This is the first mission on a small side of the moon, but it's not a moon-funded mission," Antebi said on Monday at a press conference in Tel Aviv before the start. "This will open new moon horizons for commercial opportunities."
"Usually these projects come from government agencies of great superpowers," Antebi added.
SpaceIL was the only Israeli competitor in the Google LunarX PRIZE international competition, which offered participants a chance to win $ 20 million by landing an unmanned spacecraft on the Moon. Google ended the competition officially on March 31 without a winner. But the group behind SpaceIL decided to continue its mission by turning to donors to help finance the bare bones operation.
The Beresheet spacecraft will measure the magnetic fields of the Moon, data that will be transferred to the Weizmann Institute to help scientists learn how the moon was formed millions of years ago. Beresheet will send information about two to three days before the sun's rays are expected to melt parts of the communications system, completing the mission.
Although scientists are interested in the hard data that Beresheet is expected to collect, Dr. Opher Doron, general manager of the space division at Israel Aerospace Industries, said that one of the main goals of the spacecraft is education.
Beresheet's team hopes that the excitement surrounding Israel's first landing will have an "Apollo effect" when space trips in the 1960s inspire hundreds of thousands of American children to study science and space engineering. the exciting part is to make Israeli children excite a lot of technology to see they can do everything, "Doron said. "This is a great technological achievement, but it's also a huge educational achievement."
Beresheet's team develops a number of educational initiatives alongside the Ministry of Education to help students follow the voyage of the spacecraft, including special teacher kits and a free smartphone application
President Reven Rivlin will host a pajama party with students on Thursday night until he stays at 3:45 to watch the launch at Jerusalem's presidential residence. The project involves more trainers than engineers to ensure that spacecraft travel and moon landing will reach as many students as possible, said Daniela Geron, a ground segment engineer responsible for coordinating between teams and the spacecraft.
The spacecraft carries a Hebrew Bible with nanotechnology on a small 5-coin metallic circle and a time capsule with the Israeli Declaration of Independence and National Anthem, memories of a Holocaust survivor, children's drawings of space and the moon. , the passenger's prayer, and a note from former ex-president Shimon Peres.
The Beresheet Command Center is located in Yehud, about 10 miles southeast of Tel Aviv, where the spacecraft was built and tested, including 10-day periods in a massive vacuum has pierced the spacecraft. alternating with extreme heat and cold to ensure that it can face the wide temperature fluctuations in space.
To reduce costs and weight, Beresheet has no duplicate systems. Most spacecraft carry duplicate solar panels, communication systems and other technologies, so if there is a failure, the backup system can begin to work and the mission can continue. With Beresheet, if any of the equipment fails, the whole project is lost.
Beresheet will travel at a speed of 36,000 kilometers per hour. When it is at its farthest point, about 400,000 kilometers from Earth, the team will be able to communicate with the spacecraft only if the Beresheet location can be set within a few meters. Currently, a team of engineers is training NASA satellites to prepare them for landing on the moon.
The team will have only one chance to land on the Moon, although it can try again if it misses the first window, Antebi said.
The project almost did not happen, almost as a victim of the prolongation of US President Donald Trump's government. The spacecraft was full and ready to go to Israel at the end of December but was still waiting for customs clearances when the disagreements on Trump's border wall shut down the US government for 35 days.
If Bereshit did not arrive in America in time to be assembled for launching SpaceX, the whole project would collapse, said Morris Canne, SpaceIL's 89-year-old president. Kahn worked with a number of contacts to get approval from US customs despite the government's closure, and the spacecraft arrived in Florida in time to make the launch.
The moon landing also opened new ways for cooperation with Israelis and NASA, which is excited about the low cost of the project and hopes to make it a prototype for future moon landings if the operation is successful.
"How much chuck [arrogance] should be thought you can get to Moon with $ 100 million? Doron asked. "Maybe we should call it hutzpah instead of Beresheet." The public chose Beresheet, the Jewish name of the Book of Genesis, in a study conducted by SpaceIL in July 2018.
SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries have also signed agreements with the German space agency OHB in addition to NASA.
"There is a trend that many space agencies want to return to the moon, so there's a possibility of commercialization," Doron said. He noted that the landing of the moon would lead to an increase in national pride and commercial opportunities.
Space trips are aimed at the Uber and the sharing economy, with international space agencies wanting to cut their costs by using "horse riding" to sneak into the space of existing commercial launches. a large geo-communications satellite and other equipment for the US Air Force will be launched in space. While Musk has pushed the market to commercial missile shots, SpaceIL and IAI are hoping to find a niche in cheap moon landings, so space agencies or, one day, private individuals or organizations could send cameras and research equipment to the moon for their own.
by engineers and educators has set his eyes on April 11, which is convenient after the election in Israel set for April 9th.
Dorin said Beresheet's team chose the date before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the election.
For the time being, 25 engineers are in crisis, making adjustments at the last minute before Friday's start.
"We'll have about half an hour of contact with the spaceship every four hours," explained Geron, coordinator. The Beresheet team will use satellite dishes distributed around the world in Hawaii, Chile, Sweden, Australia, South Africa, Germany, the continent and Israel to track the spacecraft using satellite dishes up to 74 meters (240 feet) ).
She noted that the project is more than the data they are hoping to collect around the magnetic field of the moon. "This is about acquiring knowledge that will remain in Israel," she said. "Everything we went through, all links, all emails from late nights, we learned so much and next time it will be faster and more efficient," she said. "We had to find so many creative solutions, ways to make communication work while the spacecraft is moving and we are moving. We accumulate all this knowledge, and the educational branch will inspire so many children. "
Geron said that when the engineering team needed a break from intensive work, they would go to the schools to give lectures about the project, and get back inspired by all the interests generated by the Beresheet project.
"As soon as we get in touch with the spacecraft after landing, we'll be able to breathe again," Geron said. "And all this will be worth it."