Israel’s Selfie from Space

Olive Hawkins
March 7, 2019

An Israeli spacecraft has sent its first selfie back to earth as it makes its way to the moon. It shows the spacecraft Beresheet, Hebrew for Genesis, orbiting some 23,300 miles (37,600 kilometers) away, with the entire Earth as the stunning Apollo-style backdrop.

Beresheet launched from Cape Canaveral last month and is expected to land on the moon April 11.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket sent Beresheet into orbit on February 21, with a logistical assist from Seattle-based Spaceflight.

An artist's rendition of the Beresheet spacecraft on the lunar surface.

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The Beresheet lander, which is the size of a dishwasher and takes its name from the Hebrew phrase for "In the Beginning", was built by SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries with almost $100 million in backing from Israeli billionaire Morris Kahn, Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson and other private donors.

If it lands successfully, Israel will become the fourth nation to soft land on the moon following Russian Federation, the US and China. The spacecraft has a time capsule loaded with digital files containing a Bible, children's drawings, Israeli songs, memories of a Holocaust survivor and the blue-and-white Israeli flag. Japan is also planning to send a small lunar lander to study volcanic areas in 2020-2021.

The US space agency plans to build a small space station, dubbed Gateway, in the moon's orbit by 2026, and envisages a manned mission to Mars in the following decade.

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