SpaceIL chairman Morris Kahn: The lunar capture is an historic event in and of itself – but it also joins Israel in a seven-nation club. Today I am proud to be an Israeli.
At 17:17 today, Israel time, SpaceIL’s engineering team and Israel Aerospace Industries conducted the most critical maneuver to date of Israeli space craft Beresheet’s journey to the moon – the Lunar Capture. This maneuver enabled the spacecraft to be captured by the moon’s gravity and begin orbiting the moon – and with the moon, orbiting the Earth.
Today’s maneuver moved the spacecraft into an elliptical orbit around the moon, with the closest point (perilune) 500 kilometers to the moon, and the farthest point (apolune) 10,000 kilometers from it.
In the coming week, many more maneuvers will take Beresheet from an elliptical to a round orbit, at a height of 200 kilometers from the moon. The maneuvers will aim to reduce the spacecraft’s distance from the moon and reach the optimal point to conduct an autonomic landing in the Sea of Serenity in the evening Israel time, April 11.
SpaceIL chairman Morris Kahn said, “The lunar capture is an historic event in and of itself – but it also joins Israel in a seven-nation club that has entered the moon’s orbit. A week from today we’ll make more history by landing on the moon, joining three super powers who have done so. Today I am proud to be an Israeli.”
The Israeli spacecraft Beresheet was launched to the moon on February 22 at 03:45 Israel time (20:45 local time) from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a SpaceX Launchpad by a Falcon 9 rocket as secondary payload alongside two satellites.
IAI has been a full partner in the Beresheet project since its inception. Over the years, additional partners have been added from the private sector, government and academia. The most prominent of them are the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Israeli Space Agency, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Israeli telecommunications firm Bezeq and others. Among the main contributors to the project are Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, Sammy Sagol, Lynn Schusterman, Sylvan Adams, Stephen Grand and others. Philanthropist and businessman Morris Kahn took the lead in completing the mission by funding $40 million of the project, and in his role as chairman of SpaceIL.