Israel Becomes Only Seventh Nation to Orbit the Moon

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Genesis 1:1 (The Israel Bible™)

The engineering teams of SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) have performed the most critical maneuver yet in Beresheet’s journey to the moon – known as the “Lunar Capture.”

The craft has been spiraling away from earth for approximately the last six weeks and slipped into orbit around the moon yesterday.

“[The] 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,” according to a SpaceIL statement.

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Earlier this week, Beresheet reached the closest point to Earth in its last Earth orbit – approximately 1,700 kilometers. The lunar orbit is 400,000 kilometers from Earth.

Understandably, there was a great amount of excitement at this outstanding achievement.

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.”

Far side of the moon (Credit: SpaceIL)

SpaceIL CEO Ido Anteby and IAI CEO Nimrod Sheffer echoed Kahn’s enthusiasm. “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,” Anteby remarked.

The spacecraft has traveled 5.5 million km (over 3.4 million miles) in its orbits and will travel one million more while orbiting the moon.