Counting Down

First Private Lunar Lander Passes Launch Tests at SpaceX Facility

byKristin Houser
2. 1. 19

It's one step closer to making space history.

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


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