Kilometers from Earth, Israeli Spacecraft Beresheet Takes a Selfie

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Kilometers from Earth, Israeli Spacecraft Beresheet Takes a Selfie

On its way to a lunar landing next month, the Beresheet spacecraft beamed back a photo of itself yesterday - with Earth in the background 23,364 miles away.

In the image, a plaque that was installed at the front of the spacecraft is seen, featuring the Israeli flag and the message "Am Yisrael Chai" (lit. long live the nation of Israel). The spacecraft's trackers, which were supposed to follow the stars, failed to work after launch, but on February 24, the spacecraft still managed to complete its first maneuver successfully when Beresheet's main engine was activated.

If successful, Beresheet will make history twice: as the first private-sector landing on the Moon, and the first from Israel.

The four-legged Beresheet, barely the size of a washing machine, will circle Earth in ever bigger loops until it's captured by lunar gravity and goes into orbit around the moon instead.

"Privately Funded Israeli Spacecraft Heads Toward Lunar Landing" is part of Aviation Week & Space Technology's subscription package.

Beresheet - which means "Genesis" in Hebrew - lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida two weeks ago atop a used SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. It is expected to land on the moon on April 11, where it will measure the moon's magnetic fields before succumbing to the sun's heat soon after.

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