Israel’s Genesis spacecraft aligns itself for lunar orbit

The maneuver ensures “the spacecraft reaches the lunar orbit at exactly the right time and place,” a senior engineer said.

By World Israel News Staff

Israel’s first spacecraft, Beresheet (or “Genesis”) performed a special maneuver on Wednesday night to align itself on the right track to the moon, SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries announced on Thursday.

“Unlike previous maneuvers in which we accelerated the spacecraft’s speed to increase its orbit, in this maneuver we modified the orbit’s plane to slightly tilt the angle and ensure the spacecraft reaches the lunar orbit at exactly the right time and place,” said Yoav Landsman, senior engineer at SpaceIL.

This latest move follows the spacecraft’s final major maneuver earlier this week when it burned its engine for 60 seconds, during which an elliptical orbit was set to bring the craft to the moon.

Genesis is scheduled to land on the moon on April 11. It launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida aboard a SpaceX rocket on Feb. 21.

SpaceIL was established in 2011 by three engineers: Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari, and Yonatan Winetraub, to compete for the Google Lunar XPRIZE which required building, launching and landing an unmanned spacecraft on the moon through private initiative.

Although the competition ended with no winners on March 31, 2018, SpaceIL decided to continue with its mission to land on the moon.

It has been funded mainly by Morris Kahn, a philanthropist and businessman who took the lead in completing the mission, serving as SpaceIL’s president and financing $40 million, says the organization.

“By what we’re doing and achieving with the limited resources that we have, and the limited finances we had – I think we showed the Israeli ingenuity,” said Kahn. “We show our initiative, and we’ve developed technology, which I think is going to be important. I think we gotta take Israel into space.”

If the mission is successful, Israel would be only the fourth nation to land an object on the moon.