At about 8:45pm local time on Thursday night, the long-awaited launch of an Israeli spacecraft took place at Cape Canaveral, Florida!
The SpaceX Falcon 9 will deliver the Beresheet (“in the beginning”) lunar lander to moon, making Israel only the fourth country in the world to land on the moon’s surface! (The US, Russia and China are the other three.) Not only will Israel join an elite group if the moon landing is successful, but this is also a highly significant mission for another reason: it is the first privately-funded lunar landing.
Proud Israelis at mission control in Israel erupted into cheers as the rocket lifted off and safely cleared the launch tower. They soon settled into business controlling the mission, though measured cheers continued as each stage of liftoff and flight occurred on schedule. It will take the spacecraft several weeks to actually reach the moon, as the craft slingshots through earth’s atmosphere before entering the gravity field of the moon. Landing is expected on April 11 if all goes as planned.
Here is footage of the launch: