Credit: SpaceIL/Israel Aerospace Industries

A critical lunar orbit capture took place successfully! Israel’s Beresheet lunar lander is now entering an elliptical course around the Moon, with the closest point 500 kilometers to the lunar surface and the farthest point 10,000 kilometers.

With this maneuver, Israel accomplished another historic goal by becoming the seventh nation ever to enter the Moon’s orbit.

Target time

One week from today, SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) will conduct more lunar maneuvers as the spacecraft approaches a targeted April 11 landing.

Credit: SpaceIL/Israel Aerospace Industries

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.

Credit: SpaceIL/Israel Aerospace Industries

More maneuvers

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 kilometers 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.

Beresheet basics:

— The spacecraft has performed seven maneuvers

— Beresheet has traveled 5.5 million km (over 3.4 million miles) in its orbits and will travel one million more while orbiting the Moon

— The spacecraft made 12.5 Earth orbits, including seven at an altitude of 70,000 km (nearly 44,000 miles), two at an altitude of 131,000 km (nearly 814,000 miles), two at an altitude of 265,000 km (nearly 165,000 miles) and 1.5 at 420,000 km (over 260,000 miles)

— The craft has used 80 kg (176 pounds) of fuel so far

— Beresheet has experienced two challenges, which the engineering team has been able to overcome: one with it’s star trackers, which were blinded by the sun more than expected, and the other involving undesirable restarts of the mission computer

— The Israeli spacecraft Moon lander was launched on February 22 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket as a secondary payload alongside two satellites

SpaceIL and IAI engineering teams in the control room after the maneuver.
Credit: SpaceIL/IAI

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