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By Corey S. Powell
Beresheet is the first word of the Hebrew Bible, which means "in the beginning".
If the mission is successful, then Beresheet will become the first Israeli spacecraft to go beyond the boundaries of Earth's orbit and the first private passenger on the Moon. The mission can also start the new era of space flight ̵
John Horac, Ohio State University Aerospace Engineer and space flight expert, dazzles his capabilities. "Nothing like that has been tried before," he says. "We are looking at an entirely new model of space research outside the Earth's orbit."
From its financing to its engineering to its modest size (Beresheet is the size of a commercial refrigerator), almost everything related to the Israeli probe is against the tradition. Her inspiration came not from the government program, but from Google Lunar XPrize, a "American idol", like a competition, which promised $ 30 million to any private team that could put a passenger in a month, riding 500 meters (about 1600 feet) and send photos and videos that document his journey.
In 2009, XPrize captured the imagination of Yonatan Winetraub, a 22-year-old Israeli aerospace engineer who spent the year at NASA's Ames Research Center. , California He asks: Why not try yourself for a reward yourself? "Unfortunately, I could not find people who would be crazy enough to follow my idea," he says.
When Vinetraub returned to Israel, he met two related spirits, a computer engineer Yarov Bash and entrepreneur Kfir Damari. "We sat three in the bar in the suburbs of Tel Aviv, and when the level of alcohol rose, we decided more and more to do this thing," he recalls. This was when the trio founded SpaceIL, a non-profit organization that created Beresheet
. SpaceIL presented its proposal to the XPrize committee only 45 minutes before the deadline. The first three concepts for Beresheet failed their engineering assessments, teaching SpaceIL painful lessons on how to get the most out of every drop of fuel. And when the XPrize contest ended last year without a winner, SpaceIL had to face up to finish its aircraft.
Now Beresheet is located at Cape Canaveral, Florida, less than two weeks after the planned launch of SpaceX Falcon 9.
As Uber in orbit
From the beginning, SpaceIL and its partner, Israel Aerospace Industries, fought against the big handicap: they had never worked on the moon before. Each component of the passenger became a fresh challenge, especially as engineers tried to keep the ship light and budget.
In its final form Beresheet weighs 350 pounds, not counting half a ton of onboard fuel. The mission costs up to $ 95 million, most of which signed by Maurice Cahn, Israeli billionaire telecommunications and philanthropist.
For comparison, NASA's latest NASA flight finder was Surveyor 7 in 1968. as Beresheet, and the Surveyor program cost $ 3.5 billion in current dollars (although it covered seven separate missions).
Beresheet is a secondary load on the SpaceX missile, that is, it affects the launch of another SpaceX client. Winetraub compares the Uber rideshare arrangement: Another client takes up most of the space on the rocket and so pays for most of the launch.
This trip will take Beresheet only in the Earth's orbit. From there, she will have to shoot her own small rockets and move through three circular loops around the Earth and two around the Moon before landing at Mare Serenitatus, a volcanic plain on the north-central part of the lunar satellite.
The days of Apollo they got to the Moon for two days, but it will take about a month and a half, – says Wintraub. "This is the case if you do not want to pay the full price."
Cartography of the Moon by magnets and lasers
After Beresheet reaches the moon in April, its onboard magnetometer will measure a thin magnetic field embedded in the Moon's surface. According to Oded Aharonson of the Weizmann Institute of Science, a leading scientist experiment, the observed picture of magnetism should reveal what conditions were, more than 4 billion years ago, when the molten rock was cooled and sealed to form the outer layers of the moon.
"Our ultimate goal is to create a profile of the magnetic field of the moon and understand its origin," Aharonson said in a statement.
Beresheet also carries a device that displays light in the same direction in which it arrived, regardless of the angle. NASA already has several such so-called retro-reflectors on the surface of the moon;
But the SpaceIL team has in mind something more adventurous.
Future space vehicles approaching the Moon can use retro-reflectors, similar to the lunar GPS, explains Wintraub, their ping-up lasers for setting reference positions. Beresheet will be added to this newborn navigation network. "If you go to the moon and want to know where you are, you no longer need to count on a ground station on Earth," says Vinterab. "You can just shoot lasers".
After landing Beresheet can also perform a short jump using an on-board missile. Such a move may lead to more magnetic indicators, but the risk will tip over or explode. SpaceIL team went a long way in deciding whether to take gambling
Private Cosmic Wave
Although it has not yet come out of the launch pad, Beresheet already sends shock waves through the space exploration world. The Indian space agency is preparing its own lunar landing gear, Chandrayaan-2, which causes a flurry of news about which flag nation will adorn the first non-aggressive mission to reach the lunar landing.
Chandrayaan-2 is scheduled to be launched in April. A few weeks after Beresheet, but it will follow a shorter, more direct trajectory. According to Winetraub, two spacecraft can simultaneously go to the Moon, and it's not clear which first one touched.
"I think it will be very interesting," says Wintraub. SpaceIL and other supporters of a private space flight, contributing to the development of culture in space exploration, have the advantage of national pride and bragging rights.
"Even if this fails, Beresheet may have a noticeable effect." "It will help future entrepreneurs take things that work, avoid things that have not worked, and get a better idea of how they can manage a company that is planning a trip to the moon."
Winetraub agrees saying: NASA Administrator Jim Bridgestin has recently promised support for commercial landing "by the end of 2020" supported by NASA, possibly in partnership with another former XPrize member. in Bremen, Germany, collaborates with SpaceIL to submit such a project to the European Space Agency.
Winetraub also dreams of great efforts, as a private mission in Oumuamua, a mysterious interstellar complex flying through the solar system in 2017. "I want people to say:" Let's see if this is a relation to aliens. Let's understand. "I think that people will be encouraged to do these things now that they know that private space missions
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