Israel will become only the fourth nation to land on the moon today, April 11, as the Beresheet spacecraft separates it’s landing craft for the controlled decent to the surface.
In addition to experiments that will be conducted, the spacecraft is also bringing the Word of God. It will carry a time capsule containing a database of hundreds of files. The files include a copy of the Bible, information about SpaceIL, Israeli national symbols, and other materials.
The capsule will be left on the moon’s surface after Israel completes its mission there.
Israel is joining an exclusive club comprised of only United States, Russia, and China who have accomplished the amazing feat.
Designed exclusively by Israeli scientists from SpaceIL and Israel Space Industries, the spacecraft has been orbiting the moon since earlier this week. Beresheet lifted off from the earth about Feb. 22. The roughly 1,300-lb robot has gradually accelerated its way toward the moon. SpaceIL, a nonprofit group based out of Tel Aviv University, researched, designed, and built the spacecraft since 2011 on a mostly private budget of about $100 million.
At the time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “It’s a big step for Israel but a giant step for Israeli technology. The strength of Israel in the world is rising, rising, rising and rising to the moon,”
The spacecraft is expected to land on the moon at approximately 2:25 p.m. Central and 3:25 Eastern time. In Israel the landing is expected to be the most viewed televised even ever and will take place at 10:25 p.m. Israeli time. Metro Voice hopes to stream the landing live on our Facebook page.
On Wednesday, the SpaceIL and IAI team successfully completed the last maneuver before landing.
The maneuver lowered the spacecraft’s altitude in preparation for its landing. Beresheet is in elliptical orbit with its perilune (the closest point to the moon) only 15-17 km from the moon’s surface.
Beresheet will continue to orbit the moon in elliptical orbit every two hours until it lands.
NASA helping with communications on the moon’s surface
Meanwhile, Israeli scientists spent all night Wednesday working on their last calculations before the big event. NASA is also participating in the mission and will help the scientists stay in contact with the spacecraft after it reaches the moon’s surface.
Once Beresheet lands, its mission will last two to three days. The craft will take pictures of the lunar surface and conduct experiments.
Israeli leaders hope a successful landing will have an “Apollo Effect” on Israeli youth.
“We want the Israeli kids and the Israeli youth to, we want to encourage them to learn STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and informatics – and we hope that they will have this mission we will create the effect and encourage them,” said SpaceIL CEO Dr. Ido Antebi.
President Reuven Rivlin said Beresheet will make history.
“When I was a child, we used to write fortunes on bubblegum wrappers – ‘by the time you’re 21, you’ll go to the moon’. Then, it seemed fantastical, impossible. Until now, only great powers have landed on the moon – the United States, the Soviet Union and China. But if everything goes to plan, the State of Israel – our young and small country – will be the fourth country in history to land a spacecraft on the moon.”
In addition to watching on Facebook If you would like to watch the live broadcast of the landing from the SpaceIL control room, click here.
Note: The time of the landing may change and viewers are encouraged to look for updates on social media.