SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Successfully Blasts Off Carrying Israeli Spacecraft

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Beresheet took off from from Cape Canaveral on one of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets at 8:45 Eastern time tonight.

The unmanned mission is part of renewed global interest in the moon and comes 50 years after American astronauts first walked on the lunar surface.

Zurbuchen said NASA will be ready with payloads as soon as the companies are ready to launch and land them on the Moon, hopefully by the end of this year.

Just after 34 minutes, the Israeli moon lander Beresheet, which is owned by a nonprofit called SpaceIL, was deployed to orbit. If successful, it would be the world's first private lunar landing.

Spaceflight Industries, a Seattle-based launch services and mission management group, helped find space for SpaceIL's lander inside the SpaceX payload.

The rocket also contains an Indonesian satellite and a satellite of the US Air Force Research Laboratory. "The strength of Israel in the world is rising, rising, rising and rising to the moon", Netanyahu said. Israel's first spacecraft created to land on the moon was successfully launched from the U.S. Kennedy Space Center early on Friday morning, Israeli officials said. It was the third mission for the booster, which first flew in July with 10 Iridium Next communications satellites and again in October with a radar satellite for the Argentine space agency CONAE. So far, this was only the United States, the Soviet Union and China.

SpaceX has pioneered efforts to recover its rockets for reuse in future missions to dramatically cut costs. When the spacecraft lands approximately sixty days from today, Israel will be the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the moon.

For the next month or so, the lander will orbit Earth as it lets the moon's gravity pull it closer and closer to our magnetic neighbor.

When it arrives, its landing gear must cushion the descent onto the lunar surface to prevent Beresheet from crashing.

"It's a big step for Israel but a giant step for Israeli technology".

The booster from this mission is scheduled to be redeployed in April. A total of twelve people in six missions of the Apollo program walked on the moon.

The Falcon 9 rocket will thrust Beresheet into a "long and complex" Earth orbit where it will spend roughly five weeks gradually widening its orbit until it is close enough to enter the moon's gravitational field. This is expected to make Israel the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the moon, and join the exclusive club of the three great powers that have done so in the past: The United States, China and Russian Federation, who invested large sums of money to land on the moon.

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.