Spaceflight Insider

Beresheet lunar lander takes selfie on trek to Moon

SpaceIL's Beresheet lunar lander takes selfie on its journey to the Moon. Photo Credit: SpaceIL

SpaceIL’s Beresheet lunar lander takes selfie on its journey to the Moon. Photo Credit: SpaceIL

The privately-developed Israeli lunar lander named Beresheet that launched last month atop a Falcon 9 rocket for a voyage to the Moon has taken a selfie.

SpaceIL, the non-profit organization managing the mission, tweeted the photo as the spacecraft was at a distance of about 23,400 miles (37,600 kilometers). In the picture, Earth can be seen with Australia visible. Additionally, there is a plaque with the Israeli flag and text “am yisrael chai,” which is Hebrew for “the people of Israel live.”

Beresheet is continuing its two-month trek to the Moon. The 1,300-pound (600-kilogram) lander launched into geostationary transfer orbit on Feb. 22, 2019, as a secondary payload atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.

Since then, it has completed several orbit orbit-raising maneuvers. However, the mission hasn’t been without glitches.

Not long after separating from the PSN 6 spacecraft in orbit, the lander’s star trackers experienced high sensitivity. Later, an unexpected computer reset forced the cancellation of an orbit-raising burn. However, these issues were resolved and the spacecraft is still on track to reach the Moon next month.

On Feb. 28, spacecraft’s orbital high point was raised to 81,000 miles (131,000 kilometers). More maneuvers are planned before its orbit is high enough to intersect with the Moon. At which point it needs to perform an orbital insertion burn in order to be captured by Earth’s celestial neighbor.

Once in lunar orbit, the spacecraft is expected to land in the plains of the Sea of Serenity, which is to the northwest of the Sea of Tranquility.

SpaceIL's lunar lander will take several months to gradually raise its orbit to be captured by the Moon's gravity. Once in lunar orbit, it will perform a deorbit burn to land on the surface. Image Credit: SpaceIL

SpaceIL’s lunar lander will take several months to gradually raise its orbit to be captured by the Moon’s gravity. Once in lunar orbit, it will perform a deorbit burn to land on the surface. Image Credit: SpaceIL

 

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Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also has a blog about the International Space Station, called Orbital Velocity. He met with members of the SpaceFlight Insider team during the flight of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 551 rocket with the MUOS-4 satellite. Richardson joined our team shortly thereafter. His passion for space ignited when he watched Space Shuttle Discovery launch into space Oct. 29, 1998. Today, this fervor has accelerated toward orbit and shows no signs of slowing down. After dabbling in math and engineering courses in college, he soon realized his true calling was communicating to others about space. Since joining SpaceFlight Insider in 2015, Richardson has worked to increase the quality of our content, eventually becoming our managing editor. @TheSpaceWriter

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