SpaceIL Beresheet lunar mission update + iSpace of Japan to launch lunar orbiter and lander

SpaceIL‘s Beresheet lunar lander, launched as a secondary payload on a Falcon 9 last Thursday evening, has completed its first engine firing, which will raise the altitude of the perigee (low point) of its highly elliptical orbit around the earth so that it doesn’t reenter the atmosphere.  First Israeli lunar spacecraft completes first maneuver – Israel National News.

The maneuver was made at a distance of 69,400 km from Earth for 30 seconds and will increase the spacecrafts closest point of approach to Earth to a distance of 600 km.

Beresheet continues its course according to plan and the next maneuver is scheduled for Monday night.

As seen on this video, the craft will need to carry out several engine firings to extend its orbit outward to the Moon and then go into orbit around it:

The glare of the sun has affected the craft’s star-tracker but otherwise the vehicle seems in good shape.

Scott Manley posted a video before the launch in which he discussed the SpaceIL mission:


Japan’s ispace is another organization that began as an entrant in the Google Lunar XPRIZE and then continued after the GLXP ended. ispace, however, is a commercial company rather than a non-profit like SpaceIL. The company has raised nearly $100M in investments and has contracts with several companies and government institutions.

The latest contract is with the NGK Spark Plug company and involves testing a solid-state a battery under the harsh conditions on the Moon, particularly the extremely cold temperatures during the 2 week long nights.

The company currently is focused on the first two missions to the Moon:

Mission 1 will entail an orbit around the Moon, while Mission 2 will perform a soft lunar landing and deployment of rovers to collect data from the lunar surface.

ispace has contracted with SpaceX to carry its Lunar Lander (Moon landing spacecraft) and Lunar Rovers (Moon surface exploration robots) for the HAKUTO-R Program as secondary payloads on it’s Falcon-9 rocket. The launches for the first and second missions for HAKUTO-R will occur in mid-2020 and mid-2021, respectively.

Here is a video showing the phases of the mission to land on the Moon and deploy a small rover to explore:

This video introduces some of the people working at ispace:

And this video presents the company’s long term vision:


Telescopes and Binoculars at Amazon