Israel's First Spacecraft to Moon Sends Selfie

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The spacecraft, which is the first one Israel has sent to the moon, took a picture with its "selfie camera" and sent it back to scientists on the ground Tuesday.

It shows the spacecraft Beresheet, Hebrew for Genesis, orbiting some 23,300 miles away, with the entire Earth as the stunning Apollo-style backdrop.

The mission partners, NGO SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries, launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on February 22.

The 585-kilogram (1,290-pound) craft took off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from the private USA -based SpaceX company of entrepreneur Elon Musk.

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Beresheet is scheduled to land on the Moon on April 11.

If it lands successfully, Beresheet will take photos of the lunar surface and measure the magnetic field of the landing area in the moon's Sea of Tranquility. The spacecraft has a time capsule loaded with digital files containing a Bible, children's drawings, Israeli songs, memories of a Holocaust survivor and the blue-and-white Israeli flag.

The project originally launched as an effort to win the Google Lunar XPRIZE, which called for building, launching and landing an unmanned spacecraft on the moon. Only the US, Russia and China have landed on the moon so far. Japan, the European Space Agency and India have all crash-landed probes on the moon.

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