Beresheet lunar lander takes selfie on trek to Moon
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.
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 website about human spaceflight called Orbital Velocity. You can find him on twitter @TheSpaceWriter.