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First Private Lunar Lander Passes Launch Tests at SpaceX Facility

February 1st 19__Kristin Houser__Filed Under: Off World
SpaceIL

Testing Complete

In July, SpaceIL announced plans to send the first privately funded lander to the Moon aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

On Wednesday, the Israeli nonprofit tweeted that it “successfully completed the testing stage” of refueling and assembling the launcher. The tests took place at SpaceX’s processing facility in Florida, according to GeekWire — and now that they’re out of the way, SpaceIL’s craft is one step closer to launch.

On Schedule

The lander, which SpaceIL dubbed Beresheet, is about the size of a dishwasher and will weigh 1,290 pounds once fueled up.

The plan is for the craft to split from the Falcon 9 when it hits an altitude of 37,000 miles. It will then complete a series of maneuvers before landing on the Moon approximately eight weeks after launch, which is currently scheduled for some time after Feb. 18.

One-Way Trip

Beresheet won’t complete a return mission to Earth, but it will send back data collected via a high-res video camera system and a device that will map the Moon’s magnetic field. It will also bring with it a “time capsule” of digital files for future Moon explorers to potentially discover.

If all goes as planned, Beresheet won’t just be the first privately funded craft to reach the Moon — it’ll also secure Israel a spot as the fourth nation to land a craft on the Moon, behind just the U.S., Russia, and China.

READ MORE: Israeli Lunar Lander Passes Tests in Preparation for SpaceX Launch to the Moon [GeekWire]

More on SpaceIL: SpaceX Delays Launch of First Private Lunar Lander Without Explanation