Israel’s First Lunar Mission, Beresheet, Is Now En Route To The Moon


Beresheet (which means “in the beginning” in Hebrew) is Israel’s first lunar mission, and it launched back on February 21th, 2019. A couple of days ago, on March 19th, the lunar lander had its 1-minute engine firing, and it managed to get closer to its final destination, the Moon.

Firing its main engine for 60 seconds got the robotic spacecraft significantly closer to the Moon. Beresheet reached its furthest point from Earth, and it is out to 405,000 km (251,655) miles.

“That’s enough to reach the distance of the Moon from the Earth, and it’s actually our last maneuver to get closer to the Moon. We will have a couple of more maneuvers over the following days that are small maneuvers to adjust our trajectory slightly, but we are on our way to the moon, very successfully, right now,” declared Opher Doron, space division general manager at Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

The Beresheet lunar mission would reach the Moon in April this year

The elliptical path of the Beresheet needs to be tweaked a bit, and the mission team will perform a couple of maneuvers in the upcoming days. If everything goes according to the plan, the lander is supposed to reach Moon’s orbit on April 4th, while it would land on Earth’s natural satellite on April 11th.

That is history in the making, and Israel will be the fourth country that will land a spacecraft on the Moon. To date, only the United States, the Soviet Union, and China managed to achieve this feat. More than that, Israel’s first lunar mission will be the first private mission to land on the Moon, and it uses a relatively small budget of only $100 million.

At first, Beresheet was only an entrant in the Google Lunar X Prize competition. While the contest did not have a winner, IAI continued to work on this project by itself.


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