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Israel’s Moon Lander Close to the Lunar Orbit

Beresheet – UPDATE: The six-minute maneuver will be performed starting at 10:15 a.m. EDT (1415 GMT), mission team members said in a media advisory.

If all goes according to plan, the braking will reduce Beresheet’s velocity relative to the Moon from 5,281 mph (8,500 km/h) to 4,660 mph (7,500 km/h).

A successful maneuver will position the spacecraft on an elliptical orbit around the Moon, in which the nearest point (perilune) is 310 miles (500 kilometers) from the lunar surface and the farthest one (apolune) is 6,213 miles (10,000 km) away.

In the week following tomorrow’s milestone capture, the SpaceIL and IAI teams will perform several maneuvers to circularize Beresheet’s orbit around the Moon and lower it, until the lander zips 124 miles (200 km) above the lunar surface.

The first lunar orbits will last 14 hours, team members said.

As Beresheet approaches landing, each lunar orbit will last only two hours. And it everything works out, the spacecraft will make an autonomous landing on the moon’s Sea of Serenity on the evening of April 11.