Israel is reaching new heights after it launched a space probe in conjunction with SpaceX in an attempt to get to the moon for the nation’s first time. The process was almost 10 years in the making among three engineers from Israel who first dreamed up their plan in a Tel-Aviv bar, the Orlando Sentinel reports. As of Friday morning, the SpaceX Falcon 9, part of Elon Musk’s private space ventures, is still headed to the moon with its payload, which includes the lunar lander designed by the three Israelis.
By: Lindsey Duffy
The technology created by the engineers is called Beresheet, which means “in the beginning” when translated from Hebrew, the Orlando Sentinel reports. Indonesia has a communications satellite on board the space probe too, joining the Beresheet lander and one other satellite to make up the payload, according to the Associated Press. The SpaceX Falcon 9 successfully lifted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force station at 8:45 p.m.
So far, everything is going according to plan, and the lunar lander could touch down on the Moon on April 11 as originally scheduled. The payload continues heading to where it’s supposed to go, and the booster came back to Earth and properly landed on a sea vessel, allowing the booster to be reused and not just cast off into the atmosphere as space junk.
Yiral Harel is the lead person in charge of SpaceIL, the name of the space program. He spoke at a news conference last night and explained the significance of Israel coming a little closer to becoming the fourth nation to ever make it to the moon.
“Israel is a very small country. It’s smaller than New Jersey,” Harel said, “and we are shooting to the moon.”
Kfir Damari, Yariv Bash, and Yonatan Winetraub are the engineers who helped build SpaceIL with their original concepts that they dreamt up in that Tel-Aviv bar. Serious work on the idea started back in 2011.
“All the way to kids, who ran after us after giving a talk and said, ‘You know what? I want to give my Hanukkah allowance to you all because I want to be part of the mission to go to the moon,’” Winetraub, one of SpaceIL’s cofounders, said about the excitement and importance that’s being created by this occasion.
“We thought we [could] convince kids to pursue careers in science and engineering, and in Israel that’s a big problem because kids diverge from that,” Winetraub said. He explained how “kids want to be celebrities, they want to be rock stars,” but “one thing we are really proud of is that in Israel we met more than a million kids.”
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