Inside The SpaceX Moon Launch That Just Made History

Katie Ramirez
February 22, 2019

The U.S. Apollo program tallied six manned missions to the moon - the only ones yet achieved - between 1969 and 1972, with about a dozen more robotic landings combined by the Americans and Soviets. The journey to the surface of the moon is expected to take eight weeks.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off with Israel's Lunar Lander and an Indonesian communications satellite at space launch complex 40, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

It will then spend the next two months stretching its elongated orbit to make it all the way to the moon and achieve lunar orbit. A company representative declined to comment on SpaceIL's mission ahead of launch, but noted that the "webcast will have more to say on the mission".

The $100 million mission was designed and built by SpaceIL, a nonprofit based in Israel, and will take until early April to reach the moon.

SpaceX said it planned to land the first stage on a droneship, which will land in the Atlantic Ocean, following separation.

Once deployed, the spacecraft will enter a gradually widening Earth orbit that will eventually bring the probe within the moon's gravitational pull, setting the stage for a series of additional maneuvers leading to an automated touchdown.

The Israeli craft Beresheet, which competed in the Google Lunar XPrize, will travel to the moon after deployment using its own power.

Pelicans will ask National Basketball Association to rethink ruling on Davis sitting
There is no doubt that this incessant trade talk about the Lakers' young core hurt their chemistry and front office reception. Davis made it clear Sunday night after his quiet cameo that he still wants to play out the season.

The 5-foot-tall Beresheet lander will be tucked into the rocket with Nusantara Satu. Launching the refurbished booster for a third time could net SpaceX millions (if not tens of millions) of dollars.

SpaceX plans to recover the first-stage booster, which flew twice a year ago, with a touchdown on an ocean platform.

Beresheet will stay on the moon until someday, perhaps, Israeli astronauts can retrieve it. It would also become the first private enterprise to make a controlled landing on the moon, with the smallest spacecraft to do it, and by far the least expensive mission. Once landed, Beresheet's mission will be to transmit photo and videos of the surface, as well as to conduct scientific measurements.

The rocket's two other payloads were a telecommunications satellite for Indonesia and an experimental satellite for the U.S. Air Force.

"It is rocket science, but our goal is to show them that it's not magic - it's something they can understand", SpaceIL co-founder Kfir Damari said during Wednesday's briefing. Beresheet will measure the magnetic field at the landing site, and send back data and pictures.

The total cost of one of its Falcon 9 launches is estimated to reach £44 million ($61m), while each of its larger Falcon Heavy flights costs £65 million ($90m).

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER