The first Israeli lunar spacecraft, named Beresheet, was loaded into a special shipping container and flown on Thursday to Florida ahead of SpaceIL’s historic mission to the moon.
(photo credit: TOMER LEVI)
Israel began its historic journey to the moon this week after SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)’s first lunar spacecraft was transported via cargo plane from Ben-Gurion Airport to Orlando, Florida.
This comes ahead of launching from SpaceX Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station expected to take place in mid-February.
The craft weighing-in at 180 kilograms was packed into a special temperature-controlled, sterile shipping container, built to protect the spacecraft and ensure it arrives safely at the launch site.
Once it lands at Orlando International Airport, the spacecraft – named Bereshit
(the Hebrew word for in the beginning) – will then be driven to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
The spacecraft will be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket together with a geostationary communications satellite built by SSL.
“After eight years of hard work, our dream has come true: We finally have a spacecraft,” said SpaceIL CEO Ido Anteby. “Shipping the spacecraft to the United States is the first stage of a complicated and historic journey to the moon. This is the first of many exciting moments, as we look forward to the forthcoming launch in Cape Canaveral.”
IAI Director of Logistics Eyal Shitrit added that though IAI has extensive experience in complex shipping projects, “the transporting of Beresheet is a unique challenge since this is a once-in-a-lifetime mission and there is no backup plan – this spacecraft must arrive safely.”
In addition to the container holding Bereshit
, two more containers will be included in the temperature controlled cargo plane.
SpaceIL and IAI engineers will accompany the spacecraft on the flight to Florida, and more engineers will join them in Cape Canaveral. Bereshit
will undergo final tests before being launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
Once it has completed its lunar mission, which will be the first in Israel’s history and the first that’s privately funded – Israel will join superpowers China, Russia and the United States in landing a spacecraft on the moon.
"The excitement we all feel today will only intensify moving forward, and I can't wait for the next milestone,” said Morris Kahn, an Israeli philanthropist and businessman who has mainly funded the project. “This is only the beginning."
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