“This is the first time Beresheet’s main engine was activated – the maneuver was completed successfully!” a joint statement from Israel Aerospace Industries and SpaceIL says.
By World Israel News staff
Israel’s first lunar-bound spacecraft has successfully completed its first maneuver after its first orbit around the earth, according to a statement from the team behind the privately-funded Beresheet project.
According to a joint statement from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and SpaceIL, the 30-second maneuver, carried out some 69,400 kilometers from the Earth, pushed the spacecraft towards the moon. The goal of the planned maneuver is to eventually steer the craft into the Moon’s orbit when it overlaps with the Earth’s.
“This is the first time Beresheet’s main engine was activated – the maneuver was completed successfully!” the statement says.
The next maneuver is scheduled for Monday night, Israel time.
Beresheet, which means “Genesis” in Hebrew, lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida early Friday morning atop a Falcon 9 rocket from the private U.S.-based SpaceX company of entrepreneur Elon Musk.
It is set to land on the moon in the Sea of Tranquility on April 11.
Scientists and technical staff at IAI headquarters were notified of the spacecraft’s high sensitivity toward the sun’s rays in the star trackers on board, but are hopeful that this issue can be resolved en route to the Moon. The team says that Sunday’s maneuver towards the moon took into account those problems identified by the star-tracker systems, and scientists decided to move forward with the mission nonetheless.
If successful, the landing will make Israel the fourth country to land on the lunar surface, after the Soviet Union, the United States and China. It will be the first such space capsule to land on the moon as the result of a private initiative rather than a government-funded enterprise.