Mission beresheet – the specs

Beresheet was Israel’s first lunar mission and the first attempt by a private company to land on the Moon. The mission achieved lunar orbit, but was lost during an April 2019 landing attempt. NASA had installed a small laser retroreflector aboard the lander to test its potential as a navigation tool.

Beresheet means ​”In the Beginning” in Hebrew.

Beresheet was about 5 feet (1 meter) tall by 7.5 feet (2.3 meters) wide with its landing gear and legs deployed. The lander separated first from the rocket, taking the long route to the Moon to save fuel by employing gravitational forces to propel itself. Beresheet slowly widened an elliptical orbit around Earth until it was captured by the Moon’s gravity and ultimately commanded to descend.

Beresheet attempted to touch down on April 11, 2019 in an ancient volcanic field known as the Sea of Serenity (Mare Serenitatis in Latin). NASA’s Apollo 17 astronauts landed near this region on Dec. 11, 1972. The team lost contact with the spacecraft shortly before expected touchdown.

“While NASA regrets the end of the SpaceIL mission without a successful lunar landing of the Beresheet lander, we congratulate SpaceIL, the Israel Aerospace Industries and the state of Israel on the incredible accomplishment of sending the first privately funded mission into lunar orbit,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said on April 11. “Every attempt to reach new milestones holds opportunities for us to learn, adjust and progress. I have no doubt that Israel and SpaceIL will continue to explore and I look forward to celebrating their future achievements.”

SpaceIL was established in 2010 to tackle the Lunar X Prize, a competition sponsored by Google that challenged private companies to land a spacecraft on the Moon. Though no company was able to meet the competition deadline, prompting Google to end it with no winner in March 2018, the Israeli team pressed on.

Additional Resources
National Space Science Data Center: Beresheet

Primary Source
Shekhtman, Lonnie. “NASA is Aboard First Private Moon Landing Attempt.” NASA Solar System Exploration, https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/856/nasa-is-aboard-first-private-moon-landing-attempt/.

“Update on First Private Robotic Spacecraft Attempt at Moon Landing.” NASA.gov, 11 April 2019, https://www.nasa.gov/feature/update-on-first-private-robotic-spacecraft-attempt-at-moon-landing.

Retrieved on May 3, 2019, from

Beresheet – mission recap

SpaceIL’s Beresheet Lunar Lander: Israel’s 1st Trip to the Moon
By Charlie Wood 18 days ago Spaceflight

Reference Article

Some nights, the moon may look close enough to touch, but only a handful of teams have succeeded in reaching the lunar surface. The USSR did it in 1966 and the U.S. followed just four months later. China pulled it off in 2013 and again just recently, in January 2019. In April 2019, an Israeli nonprofit organization called SpaceIL tried to become the first Israeli entity to land a spacecraft on the surface of the moon, but it failed to stick the landing.

Israel and SpaceIL aren’t throwing in the towel just yet. Just days after the failed attempt, Morris Kahn, the billionaire businessman, philanthropist and SpaceIL president, confirmed that the SpaceIL team had already scheduled meetings to begin planning the Beresheet 2.0 mission.

“We’re going to actually build a new halalit — a new spacecraft,” Kahn said in a video statement posted on Twitter by SpaceIL. “We’re going to put it on the moon, and we’re going to complete the mission.”

SpaceIL’s lunar lander, Beresheet, launched from Cape Canaveral on a used SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Feb. 21, 2019, along with an Indonesian communications satellite and a U.S. Air Force satellite. Over nearly two months, the craft maneuvered into successively longer loops around the planet until reached the moon. Beresheet carried a time capsule of digital records and an instrument to study the moon’s magnetic field. Although the spacecraft failed to touch down safely, it was the first attempted moon landing for Israel and the first for a privately funded organization from anywhere.

While previous moonshots culminated from years of concerted governmental effort, SpaceIL operates more like a startup company. Inspired by the Google Lunar X Prize, an international competition to land a probe on the moon, computer engineer Yariv Bash launched the endeavor in 2010. Bash started with a web domain and a Facebook post asking, “Who wants to go to the moon,” according to SpaceIL educational volunteers manager Hili Shapiro.

Initially, Bash and his two co-founders hoped to land a water bottle-size probe on the moon by the end of 2012 to win the $20 million purse. In addition to research, the team’s early efforts focused on securing funding and finding rocket scientists. “You can’t build a spacecraft with only three people,” Shapiro told Space.com.

Over the course of the project, SpaceIL managed to raise at least $100 million from major donors and recruit scores of volunteers; Shapiro estimates that roughly 80 percent of the nearly 200-person organization consists of volunteers, including some engineers.

After building the company, SpaceIL had to build the spacecraft. Engineering began in earnest after the team secured a launch contract with SpaceX in 2015 and determined how much volume would be available on the rocket. And it wasn’t a lot.

To keep costs low, SpaceIL agreed to share a rocket with two other satellites. The shared launch would bring the craft only to Earth orbit, from which point the lunar lander would have to fly itself all the way to the moon. The added fuel requirements of this approach killed plans for the water-bottle-size probe, so blueprints for a 1,314-lb. (596 kilograms), smart-car-size, four-legged lander took their place.

The cramped rocket didn’t allow room for Beresheet to include backup systems, such as an extra computer to test code or run updates. Any major system failure would doom the craft, according to flight software developer Shai Yehezkel; however, mission control made minor tweaks to adapt on the fly, such as configuring the craft to reject faulty star readings that unexpectedly cropped up when Earth blocked part of the craft’s field of view. “The best engineering work was made from the limited budget,” Yehezkel told Space.com. “We know how to improvise.”

The X Prize expired unclaimed in 2018, but SpaceIL’s outreach-driven mission has kept the company going. Shapiro estimates that the company’s volunteers lecture 20,000 students each month, and cereal boxes across Israel recently featured cardboard cutouts of Beresheet, which means “in the beginning,” or “genesis,” in Hebrew.

“We are not just saying to dream big,” Shapiro said. “We are actually showing them that we are doing it.”

Beresheet made three orbits around Earth, each longer than the last, until the craft crossed paths with the moon. The original goal was to loop around the moon twice before touching down in the Mare Serenitatis, or Sea of Serenity, on April 11, 2019, at the end of a two-week long lunar night, the flight team expected. The early morning light of the subsequent two-week lunar day gave the probe the energy it needed to record the local magnetic field, an experiment run in collaboration with NASA.

But even it had landed successfully, the same sunlight would have soon spelled Beresheet’s demise, overheating the lander’s electronics. Now, the vehicle has become a monument. It’s also an archive, as it carried a DVD-sized digital-analog hybrid disks bearing copies of the Bible, drawings from Israeli schoolchildren, English Wikipedia and 30 million pages of records representing a “backup” of humanity’s knowledge. SpaceIL hopes future moonwalkers might decode the time capsule and learn about Earth in 2019. “We are throwing them a challenge,” Yehezkel said.

Despite Beresheet’s disappointing crash-landing, the SpaceIL team remains dedicated to their goal of successfully landing an Israeli spacecraft on the moon.

Israel Aerospace Industries, the contractor who built the craft, has signed an agreement with a German firm to build similar landers for the European Space Agency in the future.

SpaceIL plans to continue its educational activities and seeks an Israeli “Apollo effect” to inspire the next generation of space enthusiasts, Shapiro said. “We hope our story will begin more stories.”

Retrieved on May 3rd, 2019, from https://www.space.com/spaceil-beresheet.html

How France helped Israel with nuclear technology (in French)


copyright © Temps et Contretemps

Israël et la France ont constitué un véritable couple au vrai sens du terme, avec ses dérives et ses turbulences. Ils sont passés par toutes les phases : le flirt, l’idylle, l’amour fou, la passion, la querelle, la haine, l’indifférence, la séparation, la réconciliation et le divorce. Miguel de Cervantès avait d’ailleurs estimé que : «L’amour n’a pas de meilleur ministre que l’occasion.» L’histoire de ce couple a progressivement pris l’allure d’un véritable thriller.

Le judaïsme au début du 20° siècle était extrêmement discret en France et les 90.000 juifs qui y vivaient étaient peu pratiquants et très assimilés. La France était alors une terre d’asile pour les Juifs de l’Est mais le paradoxe a voulu qu’au moment où ils croyaient trouver en France une nouvelle terre promise, ils ont dû faire face à une vague d’antisémitisme sans précédent qui atteindra son paroxysme avec l’affaire Dreyfus.

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Palmachim – Israel spaceport in a nutshell

On September 19, 1988, Israel became the ninth nation to launch an artificial moon to orbit above Earth. The satellite was named Ofeq-1. Ofeq means horizon in Hebrew.

It rode out over the Mediterranean Sea and on up to space atop a rocket called Shavit in a launch from Israel’s Palmachim Air Force Base south of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem near the town of Yavne on the coastal plain near the Negev Desert.

The rocket. Shavit is Hebrew for comet. A converted Jericho II medium-range ballistic missile, Shavit previously had been test fired in May 1988 on a short suborbital flight to a splashdown in the Mediterranean Sea.

Splash Down. On September 19, 1988, the three-stage rocket flew from the Negev launch pad, carrying the small satellite to a low elliptical orbit.

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Yariv Bash (Bio of Co-founder of SpaceIL)

Bio from CES conference website (next in January 2020)

Co-Founder and CEO, Flytrex

Yariv Bash is the co-founder and CEO of Flytrex Aviation, providing autonomous drone delivery systems. Flytrex was the 1st company in the world to deploy a B2C drone delivery system in the capital of Iceland, and it is now spearheading drone deliveries in the US as part of an FAA pilot program. Prior to Flytrex, Yariv was the Founder and CEO of SpaceIL. SpaceIL’s mission: landing an unmanned spaceship on the moon. The $95M not for profit project is scheduled to launch in February 2019 with a April 2019 moon landing. Prior to that, Yariv worked as an R&D engineer for the Israeli MOD, and was the co-founder of “Mahanet” – a national creativity camp for the defense and security forces of Israel. Yariv holds a BSc.EE from Tel Aviv University.

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