Israeli Spacecraft Completes Significant Maneuver on Historic Mission to the Moon

Beresheet, Israel’s privately-backed spacecraft that was launched on its historic journey to the moon last week, has completed a significant maneuver and appears to be back on track, despite an earlier glitch, The Jerusalem Post reported Friday.

If successful, Israel will be the fourth nation to reach the moon, following the United States, Russia, and China.

Ido Anteby, CEO of SpaceIL, said that the spacecraft’s main engine “was activated for four minutes.”

Earlier this week, a maneuver was canceled due to technical difficulties, but SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the organizations behind the mission, have implemented the necessary corrections.

Opher Doron, general manager of the Space Division at IAI, confirmed that all systems on Beresheet were working well. “There is no big problem on any of the systems. We conducted a lot of testing on the overall spacecraft.”

He described the earlier malfunction as a “teething problem” and noted that, so far, “we have overcome them all and the moon seems to be getting within reach.”

Doron did acknowledge that as Beresheet continues its mission there likely will be “more surprises around the way,” but he expects that “we will manage to deal with them, as well.”

So far, Beresheet has broken the speed record for any Israeli vehicle, traveling at a speed of 10.5 kilometers (6.5 miles) a second. When it reaches an orbiting distance of 131,000 kilometers (81,400 miles) from the earth, it will set a distance record for the Jewish State too.

Earlier this week, NASA added Beresheet to the space-borne objects it tracks on its NASA Eyes simulator.

[Photo: NASA Eyes ]