The first Israeli spacecraft to land on the moon will be launched on February 22, and is expected to land on the moon in April, after a seven-week journey.
The lunar spacecraft, called "Beresheet" (Hebrew for "In the Beginning", also the first weekly portion in the Torah), will be aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 that will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Take-off was followed live back in Israel, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu watching alongside engineers from the control center of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). If the lender succeeds, this would be the first privately funded moonshot to reach in the lunar floor.
Now, the Beresheet will begin its slow, slingshot process to the moon - a process that will take a couple of months. "Good luck, Beresheet!" wrote the 89-year-old Aldrin, who was the lunar module pilot when he and fellow astronaut and mission commander Neil Armstrong became the first two humans to walk on the moon on July 21, 1969. "Israel is aiming for the #moon and you're all invited to watch", said a Twitter message from SpaceIL, the non-profit organization that designed the Israeli craft. That makes for a much longer trip; the moon right now is almost 230,000 miles (370,000km) away.
The other three nations to have carried out controlled "soft" landings on the moon are the United States, the former Soviet Union, and China. The contest closed without a victor, but SpaceIL chose to continue and get funding from elsewhere.
Space travel is going the way of Uber and the sharing economy, with worldwide space agencies looking to cut costs by using "ride shares" to hitchhike into space on existing commercial launches.
Along with a magnetometer and a laser retroreflector, the Beresheet lander will carry a time capsule to the moon. Ramon's widow, Rona, continued to fuel that inspiration after the Columbia disaster, Damari added.
The rocket also contains an Indonesian satellite and a satellite of the US Air Force Research Laboratory.
Following liftoff, SpaceX recovered the first-stage booster, which flew twice a year ago.
This photo shows a time exposure from the shore of the Banana River near Port Canaveral of the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral. The booster landed smoothly on an offshore ocean platform, after the hottest re-entry yet, according to SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk.