UPDATE #1: On February 24, Israeli non-profit SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced that at 1:29 p.m., Israel time (6:20 a.m., EST), Beresheet's first maneuver was completed successfully by SpaceIL and IAI's engineering team. Good news as each step is accomplished along the journey of Israel’s first voyage to the moon.
The planned maneuver took into account the problems that were identified in the star trackers after launch.
This was the first time Beresheet's main engine was activated. The 30 second maneuver was made at a distance of 69,400 km. from Earth and will increase the spacecrafts' closest point of approach to Earth to a distance of 600 km.
Beresheet continues its course according to plan and the next maneuver is scheduled for Monday night.
Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced that Israel’s inaugural voyage to the moon — the world’s first privately funded lunar mission — launched successfully on Thursday, February 21, at 8:45 p.m. ET from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9.
Once Beresheet ("in the beginning") completes its lunar mission, Israel will join superpowers China, Russia and the United States in landing a spacecraft on the moon.
The spacecraft successfully disengaged from the SpaceX Falcon 9 at around 60,000 kilometers above Earth’s surface, and started, under is own power, a two-month voyage to the Moon’s surface.
Beresheet communicated for the first time with the mission’s control center in Yehud, Israel, at 9:23 p.m. ET and the spacecraft's legs deployed two minutes later.
As of Friday morning, the spacecraft was 69,400 km. above Earth and is starting its way back to begin its first orbit around Earth.
In the meantime, the engineers at the SpaceIL and IAI control room have been conducting many on-orbit tests and have identified high sensitivity to blinding by the sun’s rays in the star trackers, though that issue is being checked.
On Sunday, the spacecraft is expected to conduct its first maneuver around Earth.
Morris Kahn, President of SpaceIL, said the successful launch positions Israel on the map. History has been made. The company looks forward to an amazing seven week journey that will mark yet another historic even and the company thanks the amazing teams of SpaceIL and IAI. Israel is now on the space map.
Ido Anteby, CEO of SpaceIL, added that the company arrived at the launch with a fully tested spacecraft on its way for a highly challenging mission. All are proud of the SpaceIL and IAI teams who made this accomplishment possible with professional work, perseverance and collaboration. During the next two months, Beresheet will continue its challenging journey until it lands on the moon.
Nimrod Sheffer, CEO, Israel Aerospace Industries, reported that this Friday morning (Israel time), SpaceIL and IAI, the partners in the Beresheet project, announced the successful launch of the spacecraft. Initial data was received in the control room in Yehud, the spacecraft’s legs deployed as planned and Beresheet started on-orbit tests while cruising to the moon. After all sub-systems are tested, Beresheet will start its first maneuver and begin circling the Earth within nine hours.