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Israel's Beresheet farmer heads for make-or-break maneuvering to enter the lunar cycle – Spaceflight Now



The artist's illustration of Beresheet lands in orbit around the moon. Credit: SpaceIL

An Israeli spacecraft has a shot Thursday to orbit around the moon with a six-minute engine firing, a critical maneuver that will set up for the privately funded probe's historic landing attempt on April 11.

The hydrazine-powered main engine mounted to the bottom of the Israeli Beresheet Moon Lander is set to ignite around 1415 GMT (10:15 EDT). The six minute firing will reduce Beresheet's speed relative to the moon by more than 600 mph (enough 1,000 miles per hour), enough for the moon's gravity to capture the spacecraft in an elongated path.

If the robotic boats fail Thursday, then will continue past the moon and escape the Earth's gravitational concept to go deeper into the solar system and bring the mission to an end.

"It's a simple maneuver, but it's very important and very critical," says Ido Anteby, CEO of SpaceIL, the nonprofit organization that led to the development of the Beresheet mission.

Beresheet aims to become the first privately funded spacecraft to encircle another planetary body after Thursday's moon capture maneuver. With a successful touchdown on April 11, the craft becomes the first private probe to land on the moon.

The spacecraft will target a landing in Mare Serenitatis or Sea of ​​Serenity, the region in the upper right part of the moon as seen from the ground.

Beresheet has circled the Earth since its launch on February 21 from Cape Canaveral aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The landlord traveled into space as a piggyback payload on Falcon 9, which joined an Indonesian communications satellite and an American air force space surveillance satellite on the same rocket.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is lifted on February 21 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, with the Israeli Beresheet Moon Lander, Indonesia's Nusantara Satu communications satellite and the US Air Force's S5 Space Surveillance Spacecraft. Credit: SpaceX

Falcon 9's top stage released Beresheet in an elliptical orbit that spans as high as 43,000 miles (69,000 miles) in height. After separation, the spacecraft inserted its four landing legs. With lander gear extended, the Beresheet has a diameter of about 7.5 meters (2.3 meters) and measures 4.9 meters (1.5 meters) high.

A series of main engine burns nudged Beresheet in longer lanes that took the spacecraft farther away from Earth.

"Since we were launched about five weeks ago, we have been circulating the earth in ever-expanding orbits, and our current circuit brings us to about 420,000 kilometers (261,000 miles) across the Earth just above the lunar orbit. , it is the closest access point to Earth a couple of days ago successfully, "said Opher Doron, general manager of Israel Aerospace Industries' space department who built the Beresheet spacecraft and operates farmer's control

Beresheet has traveled more than 3 , 4 million miles – about 5.5 million miles – since then Cape Canaveral departs.

Ground controllers identified a problem with the spacecraft's star tracking cameras shortly after launch. The cameras are used to locate the stars' positions in the sky and help determine Beresheet's orientation in space. SpaceIL says the star trails are too sensitive to dazzle with bright sunlight.

Beresheet also missed one of its track record engine burns at the end of February due to a computer reset, but engineers held missions on schedule for their arrival at the moon.

"We have made some corrections along the way to our course and we are on the way to capturing the moon … Thursday afternoon (Israeli time) and there we will perform a complex maneuver to get out of Earth's orbit in the Moon path, "said Doron on Tuesday. "So we are caught by the moon by our maneuver, and after that we are on our way to landing."

Beresheet will perform at least 70 percent of the impulse scheduled for Thursday's lunar catch fire to be orbited around the moon, according to Yoav Landsman, Beresheet's Deputy Mission Director at SpaceIL.

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