JERUSALEM, Israel – Israelis will be glued to their screens Thursday night to see the Beresheet spacecraft land on the Moon. If successful, Israel will become the fourth nation after the United States, Russia and China touch the moon.
The Israeli spacecraft Beresheet, which was developed by a team of scientists from SpaceIL and Israel Space Industries, is currently orbiting the Moon. The spacecraft catapulted from the earth about seven weeks ago and is expected to land on the moon at approximately 10:25 p.m. (3:25 p.m. ET).
On Wednesday, the SpaceIL and IAI team successfully completed the last maneuver before landing.
The maneuver lowered the altitude of the spacecraft in preparation for its landing. Beresheet is in elliptical orbit with its periluna (the closest point to the moon) only 15-17 km from the surface of the moon.
Beresheet will continue to orbit the moon in elliptical orbit every two hours until it lands.
Meanwhile, Israeli scientists spent all night Wednesday working on their latest calculations before the big event. NASA is also participating in the mission and will help scientists stay in contact with the spacecraft after it reaches the surface of the moon.
Once Beresheet lands, its mission will last two to three days. The ship will take photographs of the lunar surface and conduct experiments.
The spacecraft is also carrying the written word of God to the moon. It will carry a time capsule that contains a database of hundreds of files. The archives include a copy of the Bible, information about SpaceIL, Israeli national symbols and other materials.
The capsule will be left on the surface of the moon after Israel completes its mission there.
Israeli leaders hope that a successful landing will have an "apolo effect" on young Israelis.
"We want Israeli children and young Israelis to do it, we want to encourage them to learn STEM topics (science, technology, engineering and IT) and we hope they have this mission, we will create the effect and we will encourage them," said CEO of SpaceIL Dr. Ido Antebi.
President Reuven Rivlin said that Beresheet will make history.
"When I was a kid, we used to write fortunes in chewing gum wrappers: by the time you're 21, you'll go to the moon." So, it seemed fantastic, impossible, so far, only great powers have come. , The United States, the Soviet Union and China, but if everything goes according to plan, the State of Israel, our young and small country, will be the fourth country in history to land a spaceship on the Moon. "
If you want to see the live transmission of the landing from the SpaceIL control room, click here.
Note: the time of the landing can change and it is recommended to the spectators who look for updates in the social networks.