The SpaceIL spacecraft at the Israel Aerospace facility in Yahud. (Flash90 photo)
An Israeli spacecraft is officially on its way to the moon.
The lunar lander built by SpaceIL, an Israeli organization hoping to send a craft to the moon, successfully launched aboard a SpaceX rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida Thursday night. If it reaches the moon and lands successfully, it will make Israel the fourth country ever — after the Soviet Union, the U.S. and China — to land a spacecraft on the moon.
After separating from the rocket, the SpaceIL craft, named “Beresheet,” Hebrew for Genesis, will travel around Earth in progressively larger orbits, eventually entering the moon’s orbit and touching down for a landing there. That is expected to occur on April 11.
“Once, it seemed imaginary; today this is reality,” said Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in a video after the launch. “Beresheet landing on the moon is a giant step for all of Israel. This is a first-rate technological, scientific and and educational project.”