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By Cory S. Powell
Beresheet is the first word in the Hebrew Bible, which means "at the beginning." An Israeli home is planning to come out on the moon on February 21
If the mission succeeds, Beresheet will be the first Israeli spacecraft to travel out of Earth's orbit and the first private Moon ship. The mission can also mark the beginning of a new era in space flights – where companies go where they were just nations.
John Horak, a space research engineer at the State University of Ohio and a space flight expert, is stunned. "Nothing like that has been tried before," he says. "We are looking for a whole new model of exploring space beyond the Earth's orbit."
From financing to the engineering project to its modest size (Beresheet is the size of the commercial refrigerator), almost everything about the Israeli probe runs counter to a tradition. His inspiration comes not from a government program, but from Google Lunar XPrize, similar to the American Idol competition, which promised $ 30 million to any private crew who could place a moon landing, to travel 500 meters (about 1600 meters) In 2009, XPrize conquered the imagination of Yonatan Winetraub, a 22-year-old Israeli aerospace engineer who spent a year at the Ames Research Center in the mountain view of NASA, California. He wondered, "Why not try the moon prize itself? "Unfortunately, I could not find people who were crazy enough to follow my idea," he says. "The three of us sat at a bar on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, and as the level of alcohol rose, we were more and more determined to do that," he remembers. That's when the trio founded SpaceIL, the nonprofit organization that created Beresheet. SpaceIL presented its proposal to the XPrize Committee only 45 minutes before the deadline for December 31, 2010. The first three concepts for Beresheet failed to do engineering assessments, teaching SpaceIL painful lessons on how to get the most out of every drop of fuel. And when the XPrize race expired last year without a winner, SpaceIL had to compete for funds to complete its landing. As the Uber of Orbiting
From the very beginning, SpaceIL and his partner, Israel Aerospace Industries, are struggling against a major obstacle: they have never worked on a moon mission before. Each component of the cab was a new challenge, especially since engineers were trying to keep vessels in a light and budget form
In its final form, Beresheet weighs 350 pounds without counting half a ton of on-board fuel. Mission expenditures amount to $ 95 million, many of which are guaranteed by Israeli billionaire and philanthropist from Israel
For comparison, NASA's last robot was Surveyor 7 back in 1968. such as Beresheet, and the Surveyor program costs $ 3.5 billion in current dollars (although it covers seven separate missions).
Beresheet is a secondary field on its SpaceX rocket, which means it marks the launch for another SpaceX client. Winetraub compares the arrangement with Uber rideshare: The other customer occupies most of the space on the rocket and thus pays for most of the launch.
This trip will take Beresheet only to Earth's orbit. From there he will have to launch his own small missiles and run three circular contours around the Earth and two around the moon before landing on Mare Serenitatis, a volcanic plain in the northern part of the lunar coastline.
Apollo's days have reached the moon within two days, but it will take us about a month and a half, "says Winotrow. "This is so if you do not want to pay the full price."
Mapping the moon with magnets and lasers
Once Beresheet reaches the moon in April, its built-in magnetometer will measure the fine magnetic field embedded in the lunar surface. According to Oded Aharonson of Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science, the leading scientist of the experiment, the observed pattern of magnetism must reveal what conditions were more than 4 billion years ago when the molten rock cools and solidifies to form the outer layers of the moon.
"Our ultimate goal is to create a profile of the Moon's magnetic field and understand its origin," Aaronson said in a statement.
Beresheet also carries a device that reflects the light in the same direction it arrives, regardless of the angle. NASA already has several of these so-called retro-reflectors on the moon surface; scientists bounce the laser beams out of them to measure the exact orbit of the moon.
But SpaceIL's team has something more adventurous in their minds. laser for establishing reference positions. Beresheet will add to this new navigation network. "If you go to the moon and you want to know where you are, you will no longer have to rely on a ground station on Earth," says Winotrow. "You can just shoot with lasers."
After landing, Beresheet can also perform a short jump using a rocket rocket. Such a move would hamper more magnetic indicia, but would put the trigger on the tower overturned or exploded.
Wave of Private Space
Although he has not left the launch site yet, Beresheet already sends shock waves through the world of space exploration. The Indian space agency is preparing its own moon crit, Chandrayan-2, which provokes excitement from news stories of which nation's flag will decorate the first mission for worse landing.
Chandrayan-2 will be launched in April. weeks after Beresheet, but will follow a shorter, more direct trajectory. The two spaceships can be transferred to the moon at the same time, according to Winetraub, and it is not clear who will touch first.
"I think this will be quite exciting," says Winetraub. For the SpaceIL team and other space flight advocates, fostering an initial culture of space exploration takes precedence over national pride and bragging.
"Even if it is not successful, Beresheet can have a significant impact," says Horak, "It will help future entrepreneurs to perceive what they are doing, avoid things that do not work and get a better idea about how they could run a company that includes a trip to the Moon. "
Winetraub agrees, saying: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein recently promised to support NASA's commercial moon by the end of 2020, possibly in partnership with another former XPrize participant. in Bremen, Germany, has partnered with SpaceIL to offer a similar project to the European Space Agency.
Winetraub is also dreaming of bigger efforts as a private mission to Oumuamua, the mysterious interstellar object that flew through the Solar System in 2017. "I want people to say," Let's see if it has anything to do with aliens. Let's find out. "I think people will be encouraged to do such things now that they know that private space missions are
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