SpaceX rocket launch: Falcon 9 spacecraft take-off from Cape Canaveral

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Winetraub pointed out that the moon and the earth had to be in sync before the rocket could launch, adding, "The moon is coming around, and we're doing our own orbit, and we need to synchronize everything".

JewishPress.com readers are invited to watch LIVE ONLINE as the robotic lunar lander lifts off atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Beresheet is scheduled to reach the moon around April 4, then attempt a landing on April 11.

Israel would be the first country to completely fund such a project with private donations; the 5-foot tall spacecraft would be the smallest spacecraft to reach the moon, and the least expensive effort, at $100 million.

US satellite manufacturer Space Systems Loral, a Maxar company, purchased the Falcon 9 launch on behalf of its customer Pasifik Satelit Nusantara, or PSN.

Once launched, the spacecraft will enter a gradually widening Earth orbit that will eventually bring the probe within the moon's gravitational pull, setting the stage for a series of additional maneuvers leading to an automated touchdown.

Just minutes after blasting off, the Falcon 9's nine-engine suborbital main-stage booster rocket could be seen in the sky just as the moon appeared over the horizon.

Also piggybacking on the flight will be a US Air Force experiment called Air Force Research Laboratory S5 - a microsatellite that's created to detect objects that orbit Earth near a region called geostationary orbit (which is about 22,300 miles away from the planet's surface).

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The Beresheet mission originally was part of the Google Lunar XPrize competition and even made the final cut before the contest ended a year ago without a victor.

SpaceIL officials have said they hope Beresheet will help inspire Israel's defense-focused space program to pursue more science-oriented missions.

NASA, which has installed equipment on Beresheet to upload its signals from the Moon, said last week it aims to land instruments later this year or next year and that it is inviting private sector bids to build and launch the United States probes.

It's the third time this booster has been launched and landed, and marks SpaceX's 34th successful landing.

Beresheet's lengthy stay in Earth orbit may seem surprising.

Its Falcon 9 launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, where a trio of spacecraft, including a moon lander, came along for the ride. Once landed, Beresheet's mission will be to transmit photo and videos of the surface, as well as to conduct scientific measurements. Beresheet will measure the magnetic field at the landing site, and send back data and pictures.

Above, technicians stand next to the SpaceIL lunar module.

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