SpaceIL‘s Beresheet lunar spacecraft successfully fired its engine to extend its orbit to the Moon:

This diagram shows the change in the orbit with the 20.3.2019 burn:

A graphic timeline of the major events in the Beresheet mission.

When the spacecraft’s orbit reaches the Moon on April 4th, another firing of the engine will slow the vehicle down sufficiently to put it into a highly elliptical orbit around the Moon. After several orbits, another burn will circularize the orbit. Finally, on April 11th the engine will fire to slow the vehicle such that it falls towards the surface. At 5 meters above the lunar ground, the engine will cut off and the Moon’s low gravity will pull the spacecraft slowly down to the surface.

SpaceIL founder Yonatan Winetraub gives the basics of how the spacecraft’s engine firings get it to the Moon:

This video shows the full sequence of orbital maneuvers from launch to landing:

SpaceIL is a non-profit volunteer organization in Israel that began a quest for the Moon as an entrant in the Google Lunar XPRIZE. Thought the GLXP ended last year without a winner, SpaceIL raised sufficient funds to continue with development of the spacecraft and to buy a secondary payload ride on the SpaceX Falcon 9 that launched in February.

More about the latest mission event:


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