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March 19th, 2019

UPDATE #7: SpaceIL's and IAI's Beresheet Spacecraft Accomplishes Another Maneuver



The Beresheet spacecraft's selfie. Courtesy of SpaceIL and IAI.
At 8:30 a.m. ET (2:30 p.m. Israel Time)  on March 19, the SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries  (IAI) engineering teams performed another successful maneuver for the Beresheet spacecraft.
 
During this maneuver, Beresheet's main engine was activated for 60 seconds. The spacecraft's systems are functioning as expected and Beresheet is communicating with the IAI and SpaceIL control room in Yehud, Israel.
 
Beresheet is now in an elliptical orbit where it is expected to leave Earth's orbit and join the moon's orbit at 405,000 km (251,655 miles) from Earth. The engineering teams are preparing to perform a few small maneuvers to optimize the spacecraft's trajectory to the lunar capture, which is expected on April 4th.
 
Select this direct link to listen to additional comments by Opher Doron, IAI Space Division General Manager.
 

At 3:11 p.m., Israel time (8:11 a.m. Eastern), on March 7, SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) engineers conducted another successful Beresheet maneuver.
 
Beresheet is on its way to an elliptical orbit where the farthest point from Earth is at a distance 270,000 km (167,770 miles).
 
The maneuver was complicated, due to the need to deal with the constraints of the star trackers, but was carried out according to plan. During the maneuver, Beresheet's main engine was activated for 152 seconds. The next maneuver is planned in another two weeks.

SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) have shared that Beresheet's camera took a selfie photo for the first time, from a distance of 37,600 km (23363.5 miles) from Earth.

 
The spacecraft transmitted the photo to the control room in Yehud, Israel, which is staffed 24/7 by SpaceIL and IAI engineers.
 
In the photo of Earth, taken during a slow spin of the spacecraft, Australia is clearly visible. Also seen is the plaque installed on the spacecraft, with the Israeli flag and the inscriptions "Am Yisrael Chai" and "Small Country, Big Dreams."
Additional imagery and fact sheets regarding this mission are available at this direct link...
 


SpaceIL CEO Yonatan Winetraub's video.

 

 
After completing the examination of the computer resets and the implementation of corrective measures, Beresheet conducted a successful maneuver on February 28 at 9:30 p.m., Israel time.
 
The spacecraft is on its way to an elliptical orbit where the farthest point from Earth is at a distance of 131,000 km.
 
The maneuver was executed as planned and Beresheet's main engine was activated for four minutes. The next maneuver is planned in another week.
 
 

On February 26, at approximately 12:00 a.m., Israel time, another maneuver was planned for Beresheet as the spacecraft passed near Earth in an area without communication.
 
During the pre-maneuver phase, the spacecraft computer reset unexpectedly, causing this action to be automatically cancelled. The engineering teams of SpaceIL and IAI are examining the data and analyzing the situation. At this time, the spacecraft’s systems are working well, save for the known problem in the star tracker.
 
Communication between the control center and the spacecraft remains as planned and Beresheet continues its previous orbit until the next maneuver. More updates to follow...
 

UPDATE #1: On February 24, Israeli non-profit SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced that at 1:29 p.m., Israel time (6:20 a.m., EST), Beresheet's first maneuver was completed successfully by SpaceIL and IAI's engineering team. Good news as each step is accomplished along the journey of Israel’s first voyage to the moon.

The planned maneuver took into account the problems that were identified in the star trackers after launch.

This was the first time Beresheet's main engine was activated. The 30 second maneuver was made at a distance of 69,400 km. from Earth and will increase the spacecrafts' closest point of approach to Earth to a distance of 600 km. 

Beresheet continues its course according to plan and the next maneuver is scheduled for Monday night.


February 21
Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced that Israel’s inaugural voyage to the moon — the world’s first privately funded lunar mission — launched successfully on Thursday, February 21, at 8:45 p.m. ET from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9.


The Beresheet spacecraft in the clean room during its construction. Photo is courtesy of Alan Polo. 

Once Beresheet ("in the beginning") completes its lunar mission, Israel will join superpowers China, Russia and the United States in landing a spacecraft on the moon.

The spacecraft successfully disengaged from the SpaceX Falcon 9 at around 60,000 kilometers above Earth’s surface, and started, under is own power, a two-month voyage to the Moon’s surface.

Beresheet communicated for the first time with the mission’s control center in Yehud, Israel, at 9:23 p.m. ET and the spacecraft's legs deployed two minutes later.


The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch of the Beresheet lunar lander and two additional payloads. Image is courtesy of SpaceX. 

As of Friday morning, the spacecraft was 69,400 km. above Earth and is starting its way back to begin its first orbit around Earth.

In the meantime, the engineers at the SpaceIL and IAI control room have been conducting many on-orbit tests and have identified high sensitivity to blinding by the sun’s rays in the star trackers, though that issue is being checked.

On Sunday, the spacecraft is expected to conduct its first maneuver around Earth.

Executive Comments

Morris Kahn, President of SpaceIL, said the successful launch positions Israel on the map. History has been made. The company looks forward to an amazing seven week journey that will mark yet another historic even and the company thanks the amazing teams of SpaceIL and IAI. Israel is now on the space map.

Ido Anteby, CEO of SpaceIL, added that the company arrived at the launch with a fully tested spacecraft on its way for a highly challenging mission. All are proud of the SpaceIL and IAI teams who made this accomplishment possible with professional work, perseverance and collaboration. During the next two months, Beresheet will continue its challenging journey until it lands on the moon.

Nimrod Sheffer, CEO, Israel Aerospace Industries, reported that this Friday morning (Israel time), SpaceIL and IAI, the partners in the Beresheet project, announced the successful launch of the spacecraft. Initial data was received in the control room in Yehud, the spacecraft’s legs deployed as planned and Beresheet started on-orbit tests while cruising to the moon. After all sub-systems are tested, Beresheet will start its first maneuver and begin circling the Earth within nine hours.