SpaceX launch puts first private Moon lander into space on Israel's behalf
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla.,- Last night, SpaceX launched a lunar-bound payload on behalf of SpaceIL and the Israel Space Agency. The spacecraft is now is on its way to becoming the first commercial lander to reach the Moon’s surface.
“Congratulations to SpaceIL and the Israel Space Agency, said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine about Israel's first mission beyond Earth's orbit. "This is a historic step for all nations and commercial space as we look to extend our collaborations beyond low-Earth orbit and on to the Moon."
The lunar voyage is expected to end on April 11, 2019 after traveling 6.5 million kilometers. The lander, named "Beresheet," cost approximately $100 million to develop. Should the landing prove successful, Israel will join the small group of countries who have successfully soft-landed a spacecraft on the moon, which include Russia (1966), USA (1969), and China (2013).
"Eight years ago we ventured on this journey that is now nearing completion in about two months when we land on the moon," said Morris Kahn, President of the NGO SpaceIL. "We are making history and are proud to be part of a group that dreamed and realized the vision that many countries in the world share, but so far only three have realized.
While the Beresheet lander was a privately developed project, it was formally presented as a gift to the President of Israel, where it was declared a national project on February 17.
"I couldn't be prouder than to give this gift to the people of Israel and make it part of the Israeli ethos of technology, daring and a generous dose of nerve," said Kahn.
“In July, I was in Israel and was very impressed with their commitment to expanding their role in the world’s space community. As we better understand Israel’s capabilities and the innovative work of their private industry, we know they’ll be an even stronger international partner in the future, one vital to the success of extending commercial space to the Moon and eventually on to Mars and beyond," said NASA's Bridenstine. "There are terrific opportunities awaiting Israel and all of us in advancing the space frontier.”
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