Israel's First Spacecraft to Moon Sends Selfie


On its maiden mission to the moon, Isreali spacecraft Beresheet sent to Earth its first selfie, according to mission chiefs.

The image was taken as the spacecraft slowly orbits the Earth for the next month or so, before it will be pulled by the gravitational force of the Moon and the landing process will begin.

The placard reads "Small Country, Big Dreams" and the Hebrew phrase "Am Yisrael chai", which can be translated to "The Jewish nation lives". It was taken some 37,600 kilometers (20,000 miles) away from Earth.

The project originally launched as an effort to win the Google Lunar XPRIZE, which called for building, launching and landing an unmanned spacecraft on the moon.

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The spacecraft is aiming for a moon landing on April 11.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket sent Beresheet into orbit on February 21, with a logistical assist from Seattle-based Spaceflight. If it's successful, Israel will become only the fourth country after the Soviet Union, China and the complete a soft lunar touchdown.

The lander is the brainchild of three Israeli engineers running a nonprofit company SpaceIL partnered with Israel Aerospace Industries.

During its weeklong science mission, Beresheet will measure the moon's magnetic field and send back high-resolution views of its surroundings - no doubt including an Apollo-style picture of Earth looming above the lunar surface.