The 585-kilogram, dishwasher-sized lander was built by Israeli nonprofit space venture SpaceIL and state-owned defence contractor Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) with $US100 million furnished nearly entirely by private donors.
The total cost of one of its Falcon 9 launches is estimated to reach £44 million ($61m), while each of its larger Falcon Heavy flights costs £65 million ($90m). The lunar lander was deployed just after 33 minutes into the flight, and the other payloads, an Air Force Research experiment and Nusantara Satu, Indonesia's first high-throughput communications satellite, were released after 44 minutes.
Beresheet is slated to reach its destination on the near-side of the moon in mid-April following a two-month journey through 4 million miles (6.5 million kilometers) of space.
SpaceX recovered a payload fairing for the first time in 2017.
Beresheet's first maneuver will take place about 9 hours after launch, when engineers will also check to make sure everything is working as expected.
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SpaceIL was established in 2011, aiming to land the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon.
The unmanned mission is part of renewed global interest in the Moon, sometimes called the "eighth continent" of the Earth, and comes 50 years after American astronauts first walked on the lunar surface. If successful, the mission will make Israel the world's fourth country to land on the Moon, after Russian Federation, the United States, and China.
Despite the financial troubles that prevented it from making the Xprize deadline, SpaceIL found more funding and is continuing the mission without the promise of a $20 million prize.
SpaceIL's mission for the lander is to beam back photos and video, and to measure the magnetosphere.
SpaceX's 23-story Falcon 9 rocket should launch sometime between 8:45 p.m. and 9:17 p.m. EST tonight. Beresheet will only be able to run for about three days max once it lands. Following a successful separation after launch, SpaceX plans to land the Falcon 9 rocket booster on its drone ship, "Of Course I Still Love You", which is stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. The company, inspired by SpaceIL's lunar ambitions, has developed commercial ambitions of its own regarding the moon. SSL built the satellite with chemical and electrical propulsion. He said PSN anticipates using Nusantara Satu to connect around 5 million people through Wi-Fi hotspots by the end of this year. SSL is using an approach honed during a secret DARPA experiment previous year that carried a smallsat into orbit aboard the geostationary communications satellite Hispasat-30W-6.
Beresheet is helping to blaze a trail for low-priced private space exploration.