Genesis: First-ever Israel lunar mission launches this week

Israel’s first private spacecraft will launch to the moon on Friday Israel time.

By Associated Press 

An Israeli nonprofit says it will launch what it hopes will be the first private spacecraft to land on the moon this week.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin kicked off the week’s countdown in Jerusalem on Sunday where he was presented with a copy of a time capsule that will travel to the moon aboard the first Israeli spacecraft.

The time capsule consists of three discs, each containing hundreds of digital files, including Israeli national symbols like Israel’s Declaration of Independence, the Bible, Israel’s national anthem “Hatikvah” and the Israeli flag.

“Until now, only the superpowers – the United States, the former Soviet Union and China – have landed on the moon. If all goes well, the small and young State of Israel will be the fourth country in history to land a spacecraft on the moon,” Rivlin said.

SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries told reporters on Monday that the landing craft, dubbed Beresheet, or Genesis, will launch from Florida, where, propelled by a SpaceX Falcon rocket launch, it will commence its months-long voyage to the moon.

The launch is due late Thursday in U.S., early Friday in Israel. It had been originally slated for last December.

The small craft, roughly the size of a washing machine, will have to make several orbits before landing.

Israel’s space program chief Avi Blasberger says he hopes it will create a “Beresheet effect” in Israel, akin to the Apollo effect, to promote science for a new generation of Israelis.

The spacecraft will remain on the Moon indefinitely.

TPS contributed to this report.