A private Israeli company will send a landing module to the moon on February 19.

In mid-February, a private IsraeliSpaceIL nonprofit organization is going to send a landing module to the moon. The mission is intended to be the logical conclusion of an 11-year competition aimed at stimulating the private sector in the commercial development of the Earth satellite. The mission of the mission is to photograph and video the surface of the satellite, as well as scientific activities aimed at studying the magnetic field of the moon. The success of the mission will allow Israel to become the fourth country - after Russia, the USA and China - which will land its spacecraft on the surface of the moon.

The landing module, called "Bireishit"(Beresheet), which means “at the very beginning,” will be launched with the help of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle launched by SpaceX from Cape Canaveral on February 19. Together with him, the carrier will have to lead a new Indonesian telecommunications satellite PSN-6 to a geopotransfer orbit, as well as a small satellite in the interests of the US government.

After launch, the three spacecraft will separatefrom the second stage of the Falcon 9 in orbit with an apogee of 60 thousand km. PSN – 6 and his American fellow traveler will begin a correction to enter the GSO, while the spaceIL's lunar unit will raise its orbit during three orbits until the Moon’s gravity captures it. Before landing, he will make two turns around the satellite. The entire flight should take a little over two months.

The weight of the Israeli apparatus is about 600kilograms, most of which fall on fuel (without it, the weight of the Bireishit is less than 200 kilograms). It is planned to land the module in one of the dark lunar impact craters on the visible side of the moon called the Sea of ​​Clarity.

The landing of the Bireishit apparatus will be carried out in the Sea of ​​Clarity (marked by a large circle). The smallest circle marked the most probable place of landing.

Founded in 2011 by just three engineers.Israeli private non-profit organization SpaceIL participated in the Google Lunar X-Prize contest with a prize fund of $ 30 million. The task of the competition was to develop a lunar rover and send it to the satellite. The first team that could handle this task would receive a prize of $ 20 million. Participants in the second and third places would share the remaining $ 10 million equally. Under the terms of the competition, the device was able to move across the surface of the moon at a distance of 500 meters and transmit high-resolution photos and video to Earth.

The leadership of SpaceIL and the Minister of Science of Israel Space Technology Ofir Akunis near the landing module of the Bireishit lunar module before sending it to Florida

As a result, the competition was closed in April 2018. None of the participants could not cope with the task, despite the many postponement delays since 2017. However, SpaceIL did not abandon its goal. The company turned to private investors for help, eventually collecting about $ 95 million for the project. The main benefactors are Israeli businessman Morris Kahn and American businessman Sheldon Adelson. Initially it was assumed that the dispatch of the apparatus to the Moon would take place at the end of December 2018, but now the launch is scheduled for February 19.

What is interesting is the active support of the IsraeliThe company also decided to provide NASA aerospace agency. For example, the agency is going to connect its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to this project, which has been circling the Moon since 2009. With the help of a probe, the agency will try to detect mercury and hydrogen in the dust, which will rise as a result of the landing of the Israeli apparatus on the surface. LRO will also take pictures of the landing site in the visible range.

Goddard Space Center has provided forinstallation on the Israeli unit SpaceIL system of laser retroreflectors. It is a set of corner reflectors (mirrors), designed to provide distance measurement and positioning by the method of pulsed laser location. At the same time, it is not planned to use the installed reflector immediately. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter probe is equipped with a laser altimeter, however it was never sent to the same Apollo mission spacecraft retroreflectors, fearing that the reflected signal could damage the orbiter. NASA uses special ground-based laser stations to measure the distance between the Apollo landing modules and the Earth. At the same time, using a device that will be installed on an Israeli device will not work, since it is too small for that. Therefore, NASA left it "in reserve". In the future, the US space agency plans to create a near-moon navigation system based on similar laser retroreflectors installed on other spacecraft.

Finally, NASA will provide the Israeli teamaccess to the Deep Space Network system, which is used to communicate with devices of various space missions and is a system of powerful radio antennas located in California, Spain and Australia. Of course, all this luxury will be provided to the Israeli team of SpaceIL without compensation. NASA wants to get copies of all the data that will be collected by the only scientific instrument installed on the Bireishit landing module — the magnetometer with which SpaceIL wants to conduct a study of “magnetic anomalies” in the Sea of ​​Clarity.

In 1973, the magnetic field in this regionrecorded the Soviet station "Luna-21", as well as "Lunokhod-2". To power the device will be used solar panels. There is no thermal protection on Bireishita that would allow him to survive a moonlit night, therefore, the expected lifetime of the station on the Moon is two Earth days.

Understanding the nature of the magnetic field of the moon isthe key to understanding the nature of our companion. While the Earth has a global magnetic field generated by the rotation of the Earth, which creates a constant flow of metal to the liquid core of the planet, our natural satellite does not have these features. Scientists, however, believe that about 3.6 billion years ago, the moon had the same strong magnetic field. The data collected by the Israeli device, according to NASA, will help to better understand the history of the satellite.

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