- Last month, SpaceX launched the first private lunar lander into the Moon.
- The robot is called Beresheet (meaning "in the beginning") and was manufactured by SpaceIL, a nonprofit organization based in Israel.
- Beresheet had some mishaps shortly after his launch on February 21, but SpaceIL had recovered the robot and expected it to land on April 11.
- On Tuesday, Beresheet took a selfie photo with the earth in the background and a sign saying "little country, big dreams."
- When Beresheet survives his weeklong voyage to the moon, Israel will be the fourth land to make a moon landing.
Two weeks after SpaceX launched the first private lunar explorer toward the moon, the Israeli spaceship sent a stunning selfie with the earth in the background (above).
The dishwasher-sized robot is a four-legged lander called Beresheet, which means Hebrew for "in the beginning" ̵
In Beresheet's new selfie, which left 23,364 miles from Earth on Tuesday, a poster of the Israeli flag is visible, reading "Little Land, Big Dreams."
When the robot successfully lands on the lunar surface on April 11, as planned, Israel will become the fourth nation in history to make a moon landing. First, Beresheet must close the 239,000-mile gap between the Earth and the Moon.
"I wanted to show that Israel – this small country of about 6 to 8 million people – could actually do a job done only by three major powers in the world: Russia, China and the United States," Kahn said the start to Business Insider. "Could Israel be innovative and reach this goal with a smaller budget and a smaller country without a large aerospace industry?"
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So far this seems to be the case. But Beresheet has not landed yet – or has reached the lunar orbit.
Computer reboots on the way to the moon
Since launching aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on February 21, Beresheet has had a number of problems. The first big problem was a bug on the computer. This caused the system to be restarted just prior to a scheduled engine restart, which missed the maneuver.
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The team finally recovered and brought Beresheet back on track to enter orbit around the Moon in early April.
"It's normal for a new spacecraft to have some teething problems in the early days, and we've all overcome them, so we're pretty happy," says Opher Doron, member of the Beresheet mission and general director of Israel Aerospace Industries, said during a briefing. "The moon seems to be within reach."
The first computer reset and the following are likely to be caused by radiation in space, mission managers said Monday, Ynetnews said.
"There are many things that can not be tested on Earth – various phenomena that occur in space – and we ironed them, hopefully most of them," Doron said last week. "There are likely to be a few more surprises, and we will hopefully deal with them as well."
Beresheet is designed to save costs. It is about 5 meters high and 6 meters wide and 75% of its mass was rocket fuel. As a result, the entire journey to the moon, orbit and landing takes about seven weeks.
The mission cost about $ 100 million – a fraction of the $ 469 million that NASA had spent in the 1960s on seven Surveyor Moon Landers of similar size. The sum of NASA today is approximately $ 3.5 billion – approximately $ 500 million per mission – when adjusted for inflation.
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The proposed landing site for Beresheet is Mare Serenitatis or "Sea of Tranquility" in the northern hemisphere of the Moon. It is a dark lava-covered site of an ancient volcanic eruption. The area is also a source of magnetic and gravitational anomalies and – in popular culture – the left eye of the "Man in the Moon".
Because Beresheet needed to be easy to build, the engineers did not include a cooling system. This means that the robot overheats after about three days in the glowing sun on the moon.
Until overheated, Beresheet will measure the magnetic field of the moon with an instrument supplied by the University of California, Los Angeles. SpaceIL plans to share the data collected with NASA and other space agencies. The spacecraft can also try to "jump" with its engines to another location.
Kahn said the scientific mission was not as important as the Beresheet landing.
"This project will lead Israel into space, and I think this is a new frontier and what we are actually doing – this is the first non-state project to go to the Moon," Kahn said. "I think others will follow us, in fact I'm sure others will follow us."