Israeli spacecraft poised to become first privately funded lander on the Moon

<em>The SpaceIL team with the lunar lander.</em>

On Thursday evening, SpaceX is scheduled to launch another Falcon 9 rocket from Florida, but this time, the vehicle will be carrying a payload it’s never transported before: a spacecraft bound for the Moon. One of the three payloads on the rocket is an Israeli-made lander that will travel through space over the next two months and then try to land on the lunar surface. If the touchdown is a success, it’ll be the first time that a vehicle made with mostly private money has ever landed on the Moon or any other planetary body.

The lander is called Beresheet, the Hebrew word for “Genesis,” and it’s the creation of an Israeli nonprofit called SpaceIL. The company is a relic of the now-defunct Google Lunar X Prize competition, an international…

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