An Israeli spacecraft on its maiden mission to the moon has sent its first selfie back to Earth, mission chiefs said on Tuesday. The image showing part of the Beresheet spacecraft with Earth in the background was beamed to mission control in Yehud, Israel — 37,600 km away, the project’s lead partners said.
The partners, NGO SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Indu-stries, launched the unmanned Beresheet — Hebrew for Genesis — from Cape Canaveral in Florida on February 22.
The 585-kg craft took off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from the private US-based SpaceX company of entrepreneur Elon Musk. The trip is scheduled to last seven weeks, with the Beresheet due to touch down on April 11. So far, only Russia, the US and China have made the 384,000-km journey and landed on the moon.
The Israeli mission comes amid renewed global interest in the moon, 50 years after US astronauts first walked on its surface. China’s Chang’e-4 made the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon on January 3, after a probe sent by Beijing made a lunar landing elsewhere in 2013.