Israel's First Moon-Bound Mission Takes Off From Florida

A rocket carrying Israel's Beresheet spacecraft blasted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Thursday night aiming to be the first private-sector landing on the Moon and the first from the Jewish state, Yahoo News reports. The Beresheet, which means “Genesis” in Hebrew, launched at 8:45 p.m. atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Elon Musk's SpaceX. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu watched the event live from Israel alongside engineers from the control center of the Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI). “This is history in the making-and it's live! 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 585-kilogram (1,290-pound) craft. The $100 million project was financed by entrepreneurs, not government space agencies, and included backing by businessman and philanthropist Morris Kahn. The unmanned mission—which is in Earth's orbit and also contains an Indonesian satellite and a satellite of the US Air Force Research Laboratory—will use its own engine power to reach the Moon. It's expected to touch down April 11.