The move marks the first privately-funded lunar mission.
The competition was canceled in January 2018 when none of the five teams left in the competition was able to meet the March deadline for a launch.
But that didn't stop SpaceIL. But Yigel Harel, the head of SpaceIL's Spacecraft program, pointed out during a press conference that, "We realized right at the beginning that we don't have a Saturn V engine". The lander will use a thruster from Norwegian supplier Nammo to reach the moon, and to conduct a 500-meter "hop" to another location on the lunar surface.
SpaceIL does not plan to continue after this mission. Space Systems Loral took on that responsibility, signing up rideshare broker Spaceflight Inc. of Seattle, Washington, which then secured Israel's 600-kilogram Beresheet lander and the Air Force Research laboratory's 60-kilogram S5 smallsat.
Antebi says SpaceIL wants to show that a small country, with a small budget can join the prestigious moon landing club of the US, Russia, and China.
A live stream of the mission captured the moment Falcon 9 landed safely back on a SpaceX droneship, a robotic landing platform deployed to see. But rideshares don't always put the little sats into their optimal orbits. "We have to consider the requirements from the other payloads ..." The other two items taken up were an Indonesian communications satellite and a US Air Force experimental satellite. The mission is part of the renewed global interest in the Moon, sometimes called the "eighth continent" of the Earth, and comes 50 years after American astronauts first walked on the lunar surface.
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As CNN noted, the first hard landing on the moon came in 1959, when Russian Federation launched Luna 2, which crashed onto the moon; the USA followed with Ranger 4 in 1962.
But before it can land, Beresheet must make it to the moon, and its six-week jaunt around the Earth may seem like an odd approach.
If the mission succeeds, it could unlock information the moon's iron core.
S5, built by Blue Canyon Technologies of Boulder, Colorado, is created to study the space environment, evaluating if low-priced satellites can improve knowledge of objects in geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometers above the Earth. "How much chutzpah is it to get to the moon with $100 million?" On Wednesday evening, SpaceIL officials said that they hadn't decided if they will attempt the risky hop or not and would decide based on how the lander performs in flight. This method of getting to the lunar surface is slow, but it is also the most fuel efficient. All three were successfully released into orbit.
From there, the spacecraft will execute a series of manoeuvres to reach its destination between the landing sites of Apollo 15 and 17 by mid-April.