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SpaceIL lunar lander in orbit around moon ahead of touchdown

By
Brooks Hays
SpaceIL's Beresheet lunar lander took a selfie with Earth in the background from a distance of more than 23,000 miles away during a slow spin of the spacecraft. Photo by SpaceIL/Twitter
SpaceIL's Beresheet lunar lander took a selfie with Earth in the background from a distance of more than 23,000 miles away during a slow spin of the spacecraft. Photo by SpaceIL/Twitter

April 4 (UPI) -- Next week's record-setting lunar landing was dependent on the success of this week's entry into orbit.

On Thursday, the first privately funded lunar lander, a small Israeli spacecraft named Beresheet, successfully inserted itself into orbit around the moon.

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Engineers on the first-of-its-kind mission watched the spacecraft's vitals with anticipation as Beresheet executed six-minute engine burn, completing a maneuver to swing itself into lunar orbit.

The maneuver was a success, allowing the craft to be captured by the moon's gravity, and setting the lander up for next week's touchdown.

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"The lunar capture is an historic event in and of itself -- but it also joins Israel in a seven-nation club that has entered the moon's orbit," Morris Kahn, chairman of SpaceIL, told Arutz Sheva. "A week from today we'll make more history by landing on the moon, joining three super powers who have done so. Today I am proud to be an Israeli."

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