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Israeli spacecraft ‘Beresheet’ enters moon’s orbit

It will perform a complex maneuver to enter the moon’s gravity, called lunar capture, and start orbiting the moon ahead of its scheduled landing on April 11.

A photo of Earth taken by one of the “Beresheet” spacecraft’s perimeter cameras on March 19, 2019, from a distance of 15,000 kilometers. The photo shows South America. Credit: “Beresheet.”
A photo of Earth taken by one of the “Beresheet” spacecraft’s perimeter cameras on March 19, 2019, from a distance of 15,000 kilometers. The photo shows South America. Credit: “Beresheet.”

The Israeli spacecraft “Beresheet” entered the moon’s orbit at 5:15 p.m. Israeli time on Thursday in its final major step before landing on the moon.

It will perform a complex maneuver to enter the moon’s gravity, called lunar capture, and start orbiting the moon ahead of its scheduled landing on April 11.

California-based nonprofit the X Prize Foundation announced on Thursday that it will award a $1 million prize to SpaceIL if “Beresheet” completes the landing safely. Israel Aerospace Industries valued the development of “Beresheet” at $100 million.

“Beresheet,” named after the first word and the first book in the Torah (meaning “in the beginning”), lifted off from Cape Canaveral on Feb. 21.

If it succeeds, it will be the first Israeli spacecraft to land on the moon, as well as the first privately owned craft to do so.

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