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SpaceX Launches First Ever Private Mission To Moon

An Israeli moon lander was launched on February 22 alongside an Indonesian communications satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida using a used SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The first stage of the Falcon 9 returned to the Earth after deploying the two payloads into space. It then landed on the drone ship, “Of Course I Still Love You” of SpaceX, which is stationed in the middle of the Atlantic.

The primary payload for this particular mission is actually Nusantara Satu, the satellite from Indonesia. However, the tiny moon lander from Israel that also launched alongside Indonesia’s satellite pretty much had the spotlight on it the entire time. This is due to the fact that it’s the first spacecraft from Israel to be launched into orbit as well as the first ever privately-funded mission to the moon.

The lander is named Beresheet, or “in the beginning” in Hebrew –  a fitting name in all respects. It was built by a nonprofit organization in Israel named SpaceIL, which has been working on this project since 2011. It was even a contestant in the Google Lunar X Prize, an international competition that offered $30 million to the first private team to land a spacecraft on the moon. The competition ended without a winner, but SpaceIL did not give up, and now its hard work has paid off.

SpaceIL has put a time capsule inside the Beresheet, containing digital files with information about the lander as well as other Israeli memorabilia, such as the Hebrew Bible, songs in Hebrew, Israeli children art, and a picture of the first and only astronaut from Israel, Ilan Ramon.

Yonatan Winetraub, one of SpaceIL’s co-founders, has this to say about the digital files: “[they’re] going to stay there for future generations to see what is it like on Earth here in 2019.”