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Israeli spacecraft ‘Beresheet’ passes Earth one last time ahead of lunar landing

When the spacecraft enters the 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 view of the Arab Peninsula and Southeast Africa taken by the “Beresheet” Israeli spacecraft from a distance of 16,000 kilometers. Credit: SpaceIL.
A view of the Arab Peninsula and Southeast Africa taken by the “Beresheet” Israeli spacecraft from a distance of 16,000 kilometers. Credit: SpaceIL.

The Israeli spacecraft “Beresheet” passed Earth for the final time on Sunday as it is expected to enter the moon’s orbit on Thursday.

When the spacecraft enters the 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.

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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