The Jewish Chronicle

Why this flight is different…


SPACEIL’S current Beresheet mission hopes to make Israel only the fourth country to conduct a soft landing on the Moon — after Russia, the United States and China.

But the probe is taking an unusually long route to get there. Both the Soviet Union’s Luna 9 in 1966, the first spacecraft to return data from the lunar surface, and NASA’s 1969 Apollo 11 mission that landed the first men, took roughly four days to reach their destinatio­n.

So why is this mission taking so long? Part of the answer is keeping costs low. Instead of carrying and burning vast amounts of fuel, Beresheet is mostly using gravity.

It will zip around the Earth in increasing­ly wider orbits until early April, when scientists calculate it will be captured by the gravitatio­nal pull of the Moon. A series of eversmalle­r orbits will follow until the attempt to land on April 11, a week before Passover.

If successful, the Israeli probe will have clocked 6.5 million km — far more than any other lunar mission, says — and shown how low-cost Moon travel can be done.

 ?? PHOTO: SPACE X ?? Soaring high: last Friday’s launch from Florida
PHOTO: SPACE X Soaring high: last Friday’s launch from Florida

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