Israeli lunar lander passes pre-launch tests

Israeli lunar lander
SpaceIL’s Beresheet lunar lander is suspended at a payload processing facility in Florida. (SpaceIL Photo via Twitter)

The managers of Israel’s first mission to the moon say their lunar lander has passed a crucial set of tests in preparation for February’s launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with an assist from a Seattle space company.

SpaceIL’s lander — which has been dubbed Beresheet, the Hebrew word for “In the Beginning” — is scheduled for liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida no earlier than Feb. 18.

Mission success would make Israel the fourth nation to execute a soft landing on the moon, following in the footsteps of the United States, Russia and China.

Spaceflight, the launch logistics subsidiary of Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries, brokered Beresheet’s inclusion as a secondary payload on a mission that will send Indonesia’s PSN-6 telecommunications satellite, also known as Nusantara Satu, toward geostationary orbit.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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