A rocket will take off from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Thursday night carrying Israel's Beresheet spacecraft، which aims to make history twice: as the first private-sector landing on the Moon، and the first from the Jewish state.
The 585-kilogram (1،290-pound) Beresheet، which means "Genesis-in the beginning" in Hebrew، is to lift off at 8:45 pm (1:45 a.m. GMT Friday) atop a Falcon 9 rocket from the private US-based SpaceX company of flamboyant entrepreneur Elon Musk. The Israeli craft will be placed in Earth orbit، then begin a seven-week trip under its own power to reach the Moon and touch down on April 11 in a large plain.
The unmanned mission is part of renewed global interest in the Moon، sometimes called the "eighth continent" of the Earth، and comes 50 years after American astronauts first walked on the lunar surface.
"For the future of our children، the State of Israel and for the belief that anything is possible، join us and wish Beresheet luck on its way to the Moon!" said a collective message from SpaceIL، the non-profit organization that designed the Israeli craft.
Entrepreneurs، not government space agencies، financed the mission، initially as a potential entry in the Google Lunar XPRIZE contest.
That competition planned to award $30 million to encourage scientists and entrepreneurs to offer relatively inexpensive lunar missions. The contest closed without a winner in March 2018 but the SpaceIL team continued its mission and purchased a spot on a SpaceX rocket.