Beresheet: Israel to the Moon

The Beresheet spacecraft, built by Israeli non-profit company SpaceIL, is scheduled to land on the Moon today.  Landing operations are expected to begin around 19:00 UTC (you can see a UTC clock in the right side of the title bar of this site).  Landing is planned for a site in the north of Mare Serenetatis, on the north-east part of the near side of the Moon, within a 15 km area known to have little rubble or rugged terrain.  Here is a preview of the landing process from SpaceIL.

If successful, SpaceIL will join NASA, the former Soviet Union, and China as the only space programmes to successfully soft land spacecraft on the Moon, and will be the first privately-funded venture to do so.  Beresheet was launched as a piggy-back secondary payload on the 2019-02-22 on the launch of the Nusantara Satu satellite for an Indonesian telecommunications company on a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster.  It got a ride to geostationary transfer orbit and then boosted its orbit in a sequence of four maneuvers until a final burn allowed it to be captured into lunar orbit on 2019-04-04, after which it progressively circularised its orbit around the Moon.

The entire budget for the Beresheet mission, including the SpaceX launch fee, is estimated at around US$ 95 million, most of it raised from private sources.  It is by far the least expensive lunar landing mission ever attempted.  Beresheet (בְּרֵאשִׁית) is the Hebrew word for “Genesis” and the title of the first book of the Bible.

Live coverage of the landing will begin at 19:45 UTC on SpaceIL’s YouTube live feed.  (Note that if you click the live feed before the broadcast starts, it will show you a starting time which is based upon YouTube’s guess of your time zone, which may not always be correct.  It’s best to rely on the UTC time and manually convert to your local time.)

Here is a preview of the mission by Scott Manley recorded just before the launch.


Author: John Walker

Founder of, Autodesk, Inc., and Marinchip Systems. Author of The Hacker's Diet. Creator of

12 thoughts on “Beresheet: Israel to the Moon”

  1. For those who might be interested in Beresheet and Genesis.
    I think the Hebrew is translated in English “in the beginning”.  I don’t know much, but the first letter “Be” means “in” in Hebrew and the next three letters is “beginning”. This “beginning” is the same three letters for Rosh of Rosh Hashanah the Jewish New Year. Languages are interesting because the words have different nuances. “Genesis” and “In the beginning” have a total different feel for me.
    I wonder what the first word are in the different languages for Genesis.
    Beresheet בְּרֵאשִׁית
    en arche ΕΝ ΑΡΧΗ
    In principio
    In the beginning

    I see that the term “Genesis” is more a title for the first book than the first words in Latin or Greek.

  2. Crashed on the Moon.  The combination of an IMU failure and loss of the main engine was too late to recover after a reset got the main engine running again.

    Netanyahu: “If at first you don’t succeed; you try again.”

    Space is hard.  I have crashed on the Moon dozens of times in Kerbal Space Program almost precisely this way.

    Just reaching lunar orbit is a major achievement, and getting to the lunar surface at all is more difficult still.

  3. Here is Scott Manley’s commentary and interpretation of the video of the Beresheet landing attempt.  In addition, there is commentary on the Falcon Heavy launch, including the information that both halves of the fairing were recovered from the ocean (not caught by the boat), but in sufficiently good condition SpaceX plans to re-fly them on one of its forthcoming Starlink launches.


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