The exclusive list of countries that have landed spacecraft on the moon will receive a new addition this year.
In February, Israel's Beresheet Spacecraft will exit the Cape Canaveral Air Station on the SpaceX Falcon 9. The Beresheet, the Hebrew word for "home," is expected to land on the moon's surface about two months later.
The unmanned spacecraft will take Israel to a select group of nations. Only three countries – the US, the Soviet Union and China – have made successful "soft landings" on the lunar surface.
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Landing will also be the first private mission to reach Earth's natural moon.
Beresheet was born of the Google Lunar XPRIZE race to land a moonless droning probe. The $ 30 million contest was eliminated without a winner last year after the organizers said none of the five finalists would make the deadline for releasing the Moon on March 31, 2018, Space.com reported.
Nevertheless, the Israeli team continued with the development of its £ 397 spacecraft. Earlier this month, Beresheet was transported from Ben Gurion Airport to Israel to Orlando International Airport in Florida – and thence to Cape Canaveral.
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The launch of the SpaceX's Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) was launched no earlier than mid-February, according to Israeli space space organization SpaceIL, which developed the spacecraft with Israel Aerospace Industries.
After a two-month journey, the probe will land at the Mare Serenityatis in the northern hemisphere of the Moon. SpaceIL notes that the site has magnetic anomalies, allowing Beresheet's magnetometer to make measurements as part of a scientific experiment. Data from the magnetometer developed with the Israeli Weizmann Institute of Science will be shared with NASA.
"Our ultimate goal is to create a profile of the Moon's magnetic field and understand its origins," said Weitzman Institute Professor and SpaceIL mission scientist Oded Aharonson.
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In addition to its scientific mission, Beresheet will also take a time capsule on the moon. Consisting of three discs, the time capsule data includes symbols such as the Israeli flag and national anthem, "Hatikvah". Dictionaries in 27 languages are also on the discs, along with the Bible and children's book inspired by the mission.
Beresheet and its time capsule will remain unlimited on the moon surface.
"Beresheet has achieved a significant milestone on its journey to the Moon by safely arriving in Cape Canaveral," said SpaceIL President Morris Cannes. "The upcoming launch and the moon landing about two months later will be the culmination of eight years of hard work and dedication."
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"This mission has already become a source of inspiration for people around the world and we look forward to making history and joining superpowers Russia, China and the United States to reach the Moon," he added.
China became the first country to successfully point a probe on the opposite side of the Moon when the Colonel 4 reached the moon surface on January 2.
The United States is the only country that puts astronauts on the moon, doing so as early as December 1972 during the mission of Apollo 17. Only 12 men, all Americans, have set foot on the moon.
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July 20, 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11's historic moon landing, and moon missions continue to be a source of charm.
A checklist that travels to the moon's surface with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin has recently been auctioned in New York for $ 62,500. At the same auction, three small moon rocks, returned from space by the Soviet moon-16 mission, were sold for $ 855,000.
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December 21, 2018 marked the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8's flagship launch. During a series of historic lunar orbits, NASA astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders became the first people to see the far side of the moon.
Associated Press contributed to this article.
Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers