An Israeli spacecraft aboard a SpaceX rocket has launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida, beginning a two-month journey to land on the Moon.
If successful, Israel, a state with fewer than 9 million citizens, will join Russia, the US and China as the only countries to have made a controlled landing on the surface of earth’s nearest neighbor.
Funded almost entirely by donations, the project is also the first privately backed lunar lander mission.
About the size of a washing machine, the 585kg (1,290lb) robotic lander named Beresheet, the Hebrew word for Genesis, took off at 8.45pm on Thursday local time. It was placed on top a Falcon 9 rocket, one of SpaceX’s private fleets run by the billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk.