In an interesting time we live. Yesterday, we were shown the first real photograph of a black hole, today we are expected by a no less interesting and to some extent also historical event - the landing of a private spacecraft on the surface of the moon. To date, only three countries have managed to land on the satellite of our planet. Today, their number may increase to four, of course, if everything goes as planned.
Using the American Falcon 9 launcherto SpaceX on February 21, 2019, the launch of the first private Israeli space mission, whose goal is to land the Bereshit spacecraft on the Earth satellite. The operators of the mission are the private Israeli aerospace company SpaceIL, as well as the government concern Israel Aerospace Industries (he assembled the landing module).
The last six weeks since the launch of the deviceslowly but surely, through a series of corrective maneuvers he moved away from the Earth and approached the lunar orbit, to which he finally came out on April 4. There he spent the last week in preparing and waiting for the culmination part of the mission - the actual attempt to make a soft landing on the surface of the moon.
This moment has to come today. The event will be broadcast live on SpaceIL's YouTube channel (player below) from the mission control center. Also, the landing process can be monitored on the company's official Facebook page. The broadcast starts at 21:45 Moscow time.
If everything goes smoothly, Israel will jointhe list of countries (USA, USSR and China) that managed to gently land the spacecraft on the lunar surface. The Bereshit mission team chose the Sea of Tranquility as the landing site - a large lowland located on the surface of the satellite on our close view. Here, at one time, the spacecraft of the American lunar program Apollo landed.
Surface topography of the 140-kilometer landing zone of the Bereshit spacecraft
After landing for several days beforethe arrival of the moonlit night the module will be engaged in various activities Of course, the main task is to successfully land the spacecraft, thereby checking the current engineering capabilities (read: to amuse one's self-esteem), therefore any scientific and other activities are of secondary importance here. However, in addition to the obvious photographing of the surface of the Bereshit satellite, there are a couple more important tasks to accomplish. The first is the delivery to the moon of a special device - a retroreflector, which is a system of laser mirrors, with which it will be possible to carry out calculations of the distance of the apparatus to the Earth. Read more about this in one of our previous articles.
The second task of "Bereshita" is associated with the scientificaspect of. The module must measure the magnetic field of the satellite. As additional “bonuses”, the apparatus will bring the Israeli flag to the moon, a large collection of articles in the English-language “Wikipedia”, copies of the Bible, as well as drawings created by Israeli children as part of a local scientific and educational program.
Recall that the mission "Bereshit" began asproject for the Google Lunar X Prize contest, launched back in 2007. Within its framework, the participants were asked to create a lunar rover and land it on the surface of the Earth satellite, taking photographs and video recordings and moving over the surface at least several tens of meters. The first team to cope with this task was promised $ 20 million in prize money. However, none of the participating teams had time to the announced deadline. Therefore, the prize remained unclaimed. Israeli SpaceIL, the developer of Bereshita, decided to continue working on its module and attracted private investment for this. The cost of the project has increased to $ 100 million (including launch). Seeing the success of a private company, the organizers of the Lunar X Prize decided to award an Israeli startup. In the case of a successful landing, the company will receive a Moonshot Award in the amount of $ 1 million.
It should also be noted that the project “Bereshit” is notthe only mission associated with the moon this year. For example, in early January, a Chinese landing module and lunar rover of the Chang'e-4 mission made a soft landing on the back surface of the satellite. The couple survived the third moonlit night and continues to work for the benefit of the Middle Kingdom. His first lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2, on disembarking the spacecraft to the surface of the satellite this year is planned by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The US Aerospace Agency NASA has repeatedly stated that this year the first phase of the program aimed at returning man to the moon in 2024 will begin. By the end of 2019, the agency plans to send several commercial landing gear with scientific instruments on board to the satellite.
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