Watch SpaceX Launch the First Private Lunar Lander Mission


Last month Israel Aerospace Industries partnered with German spacecraft builder OHB to offer a version of the lander it built for SpaceIL to the European Space Agency for commercial delivery of payloads to the moon's surface.

As CNN noted, the first hard landing on the moon came in 1959, when Russian Federation launched Luna 2, which crashed onto the moon; the US followed with Ranger 4 in 1962. Funded by the Israeli company SpaceIL, the unmanned, 1,300 pound craft, called "Beresheet", which is the first word in the Bible and means "In the beginning", rocketed into space from Florida's Cape Canaveral. Touchdown would be April 11 at the Sea of Serenity.

If the Beresheet mission survives a weeks-long trip to the lunar surface, it will make Israel the fourth country ever to pull off a moon landing.

It will then spend the next two months stretching its elongated orbit to make it all the way to the moon and achieve lunar orbit. As well as the Air Force Research Laboratory spacecraft.

SpaceIL started out as a competitor in the Google Lunar X Prize, a $30 million moon race that sought to spur development of the private space sector.

The rocket is set to carry Indonesia's first high-throughput satellite, the Nusantara Satu, into orbit.

The Falcon rocket is scheduled to blast off Thursday night from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

It will eventually be captured by the moon's gravity where it will enter a lunar orbit.

So far, only Russian Federation, the United States and China have made the 384,000-kilometer (239,000-mile) journey and landed spacecraft on the Moon.

The Israeli team said glare from the sun on the spacecraft's sensors was making it more hard than expected for the spacecraft to orient itself according to the position of the stars as it prepared for its first orbit around the Earth, the first stage of its slow seven-week journey to the moon. If successful, it would be the world's first private lunar landing.

The space company has previously re-used first-stage and second-stage rocket boosters, in addition to one of its previously flown Dragon capsules.

The 32-minute launch window opens at 8:45 p.m. EST, or 1:45 UTC on February 22. Oded Aharonson of Israel's preeminent Weizmann Institute, explaining the significance of the launch for the Jewish state, which has several satellites.

Beresheet will also collect pictures and video while in space, during its descent and while it's on the moon, and it needs those two days to send all the data home to Earth.

SpaceIL was founded eight years ago to compete in the Google Lunar X Prize, an global competition to see whether a private enterprise could land a spacecraft on the moon, move 500 meters in any direction, and transmit live, high-definition video from the lunar surface.