Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Beresheet is going to the moon

Beresheet, the first Israeli spaceship to the moon, after 42 days in space, completed a critical maneuver and now orbiting the moon and not the Earth.

5/4/2019- First photo of the moon
After examining the preliminary data received during the night from Beresheet by the engineering team of SpaceIL and IAI, the control room updates that Beresheet is in an excellent orbit!
The nearest point to the moon (Perilune) is 470 km from the moon and the point farthest from the moon (Apolune) at a distance of 10,400 km.
The landing is scheduled for April 11 approximately 23:00 Israeli time - an accurate update will be published in the coming days. During the coming week, the maneuvers intense preparations for the landing will be conducted.
Yesterday during the critical Lunar Capture maneuver, "Beresheet" photographed amazing photos of the moon while activating the engines.

1-A picture taken by Beresheet - the far side of the moon during the maneuver at 470 km height
2-A picture of the far side of the moon with Earth in the background
A picture taken by Beresheet - the far side of the moon during the maneuver at 470 km height
A picture taken by Beresheet - the far side of the moon during the maneuver at 470 km height

A picture of the far side of the moon with Earth in the background
A picture of the far side of the moon with Earth in the background

4/4/2019 - Lunar capture

See the entire maneuver in this video

YEHUD, Israel, April 4 – SpaceIL’s engineering team and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) this evening at 5:17 p.m. Israel team conducted the most critical maneuver to date of Beresheet’s journey to the moon – the Lunar Capture. This maneuver enabled the spacecraft to be captured by the moon’s gravity and begin orbiting the moon – and with the moon, orbiting the Earth.

Today’s maneuver moved the spacecraft into an elliptical orbit around the moon, with the closest point (perilune) 500 km to the moon, with the farthest point (apolune) 10,000 km from the moon. Unlike the longer orbits around the Earth, Beresheet’s first lunar orbit will last 14 hours. Before it lands on the moon, each orbit thereafter will take only two hours. At the beginning of this week, Beresheet reached, for the last time, the closest point to Earth in its last Earth orbit, only 1,700 km, and continued on course to the point where it could join the lunar orbit, 400,000 km from Earth.

At 5:18 p.m. Israel time the spacecraft’s engine activated for six minutes, and reduced its speed by 1,000 km/hour, from 8,500 km/hour to 7,500 km/hour, relative to the moon’s velocity. The maneuver was conducted with full communication between Beresheet’s control room in Israel and the spacecraft, and signals in real time match the correct course. In the coming week, with expected intense engineering activities, many more maneuvers will take Beresheet from an elliptical to a round orbit, at a height of 200 km from the moon. The maneuvers will aim to reduce the spacecraft’s distance from the moon and reach the optimal point to conduct an autonomic landing in the Sea of Serenity in the evening Israel time, April 11.

SpaceIL Chairman, Morris Kahn: “The lunar capture is an historic event in and of itself – but it also joins Israel in a seven-nation club that has entered the moon’s orbit. A week from today we’ll make more history by landing on the moon, joining three super powers who have done so. Today I am proud to be an Israeli.”

SpaceIL CEO, Ido Anteby: “After six weeks in space, we have succeeded in overcoming another critical stage by entering the moon’s gravity. This is another significant achievement our engineering team achieved while demonstrating determination and creativity in finding solutions to unexpected challenges. We still have a long way until the lunar landing, but I‘m convinced our team will complete the mission to land the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon, making us all proud.”

IAI CEO, Nimrod Sheffer: “After a challenging journey, we made tonight another Israeli record and became the seventh nation to orbit the moon. Even before Beresheet was launched, it already was a national success story that shows our groundbreaking technological capabilities. Tonight, we again reach new heights. In the coming week, our talented engineering team will work 24/7 to bring us to an historic event on April 11. Good luck Beresheet.”

For several years, SpcaceIL builds the first private Israeli spaceship to go the moon. Initiated as part of Google Lunar X-prize, three "dreamers": Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari,Yonatan Winetraub established SpaceIL, raise funds and experts and made the dream into reality.

Beresheet - Genesis spacecraft
Beresheet - Genesis spacecraft
SpaceIL is a non-profit organization established in 2011 aiming to land the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon. SpaceIL was founded by three young engineers competing for the international Google Lunar XPRIZE challenge to build, launch and land an unmanned lunar spacecraft. SpaceIL’s other stated goal is to inspire the next generation in Israel and around the world to choose to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

If you visited Israel in the last years you probably saw a small model of Beresheet in the airport, asking for people to do selfie with the model. Some of the photos will go to the moon, maybe even mine.
Selfie with Beresheet (and my sister)
Selfie with Beresheet (and my sister)

The Spacecraft - The process of planning and developing the spacecraft, which includes the intensive work of engineers, scientists and staff, began in 2013 and continued until last year. The spacecraft, which weighs only 600 kilograms, is considered the smallest to land on the moon. It is only 1.5 meters wide and will be carrying about 75 percent of its weight. Its maximum speed will exceed 10 kilometers per second (36,000 km / h).

The spacecraft passed two critical tests: Vacuum chamber test and Hyper-sonic chamber tests and is ready to be packed and start its journey to Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the launch.

Bereshhet entering the Vacuum Chamber. Credit IAI
Bereshhet entering the Vacuum Chamber. Credit IAI

Bereseheet in a Hyper-sonic chamber
Bereseheet in a Hyper-sonic chamber

The spacecraft's journey to the Moon - Once launched, the spacecraft will begin with a long and complex flight. The spacecraft will disengage from the SpaceX launch rocket when it reaches 60,000 kilometers from Earth’s surface and begin orbiting the Earth in elliptic orbits. It will circle Earth, widening its circumference each time, while saving fuel and only starting the engines at the end of each cycle. Then, at the right time, it will leave Earth’s gravity and enter the gravity of the moon. After circling the moon a few times, it will begin the landing process, carried out autonomously by the spacecraft's navigation control system. The entire flight, from launch through landing, will take about two months.

The mission - Once the spacecraft, carrying the Israeli flag, lands on the moon in April 2019, it will begin taking photos of the landing site. It will also perform measurements of the magnetic field in a scientific experiment carried out in cooperation with the Weizmann Institute and NASA. The data collected from this experiment will be transferred to IAI's control room during the two days following the landing.
Much better selfie with Bereshhet

Now,  Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) presented today at IAI’s Space Division a time capsule that will travel to the moon — and remain there indefinitely — with the first Israeli spacecraft, which will launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in February, 2019.

The time capsule consists of three discs, each containing hundreds of digital files. Included among the files, which will travel to the moon inside SpaceIL’s lunar spacecraft, are: Details about the spacecraft and the crew building it; national symbols, like Israel’s Declaration of Independence, the Bible, Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikvah”, and the Israeli flag; cultural objects; materials – paintings, for example – collected over many years from the public for sending to the moon; dictionaries in 27 languages and encyclopedias, such as Wikipedia, an indication of knowledge accumulated by all humanity thus far; Israeli songs; the Wayfarer’s Prayer; books of art and science and Israeli literature; information about Israeli scientific and technological discoveries and developments that influenced the world; photos Israel’s landscapes and of leading figures in Israeli culture; a children’s book that was inspired by SpaceIL’s mission to the moon.

The three founders and the time capsule
The three founders and the time capsule

The time capsule, along with the spacecraft, will remain on the Moon indefinitely, even after completing Israel’s first lunar mission. With no plans to return to Earth, the spacecraft and information within the time capsule’s disks will possibly be found and distributed by future generations.
In early 2019, the spacecraft, recently named Beresheet (the Hebrew word for Genesis), will launch alongside other satellites as a secondary payload on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The precise launch date remains undetermined, as SpaceIL awaits final confirmation from the launch company.
Closer look on the time capsule
Closer look on the time capsule
"This is another step on our way to the moon," said Ido Anteby, CEO of SpaceIL. “Inserting the disks into the spacecraft, which is a real "time capsule," indicates the spacecraft's readiness to blast off from the launch site in a few weeks. SpaceIL's crews and IAI have completed testing of the spacecraft and its systems, and are preparing for the beginning of the amazing and complex journey that exemplifies innovation, creativity and courage. The spacecraft's historic journey, which also includes a scientific mission, makes a significant contribution to advancing the space industry and the subject of space in Israel."

Yonatan Winetraub, one of three SpaceIL founders, said, as he inserted the time capsule into a spacecraft: "This is a very emotional moment. We do not know how long the spacecraft and the time capsule will remain on the moon. It is very possible that future generations will find this information and want to learn more about this historic moment."

Here is a short video showing the insertion of the time capsule:

Opher Doron, IAI’s Space Division General Manager, said: "We are proud to be the first non-governmental entity in the world to go to the moon. Landing on the moon was for many years a little-discussed topic among the public, but recently we see growing interest as world superpowers seek to return to the moon in a variety of commercial missions. There is no doubt that the technological knowledge acquired by IAI during the development and construction of Beresheet, together with Space IL and combined with the space capabilities developed over more than 30 years at IAI, puts us at the global forefront in the ability to complete lunar missions."

The spacecraft, whose construction was carried out at IAI’s Space Division, successfully completed a series of recent tests to examine the integration of systems, and a series of complex experiments aimed at testing its durability. Concurrently, validation and verification tests checked the function of the spacecraft in scenarios it could experience during the mission. Since actual space conditions cannot be replicated, tests are carried out in part by a SpaceIL simulator that mimics space conditions and part on the spacecraft itself. Next, SpaceIL will soon ship the spacecraft to the launch site in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

In October, SpaceIL and the Israeli Space Agency announced a collaboration with NASA that will enable SpaceIL to improve its ability to track and communicate with the spacecraft before, during, and after landing on the moon. Two weeks ago a retro-reflector from NASA was installed on the spacecraft, an instrument that reflects laser beams and will enable NASA to precisely locate the spacecraft on the lunar surface after the landing. SpaceIL, the Israel Space Agency and NASA also agreed that NASA will have access to data gathered by the magnetometer installed aboard the Israeli spacecraft. The instrument, which was developed in collaboration with Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, will measure the magnetic field on and above the landing site.

Please find below photos from today’s event at IAI’s Space Division and examples of photos the will be included in the time capsule.

The launch will take place on a SpaceX rocket in first quarter of 2019, and the Moon landing will be at the end of a two-month journey in space. Since the establishment of SpaceIL, the task of landing an Israeli spacecraft on the moon has become a national project, with educational impact, funded by donors such as Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, Sami Sagol, Lynn Schusterman, Steven and Nancy Grand, Sylvan Adams and others. Morris Kahn, a philanthropist and businessman, took the lead in completing the mission, financing about NIS 100 million of the project and serving as SpaceIL’s president.

About Israel Aerospace Industries:
IAI Ltd. is Israel’s largest aerospace and defense company and a globally recognized technology and innovation leader, specializing in developing and manufacturing advanced, state-of-the-art systems for air, space, sea, land, cyber and homeland security. Since 1953, the company has provided advanced technology solutions to government and commercial customers worldwide including: satellites, missiles, weapon systems and munitions, unmanned and robotic systems, radars, C4ISR and more. IAI also designs and manufactures business jets and aerostructures, performs overhaul and maintenance on commercial aircraft and converts passenger aircraft to refueling and cargo configurations. http://www.iai.co.il/