Singed and blackened from three fiery trips to the edge of space and back, a Falcon 9 rocket returned to Cape Canaveral on Sunday after a mission last that week carried the Israeli Beresheet moon lander into orbit, ready for inspections before attempting a fourth — and likely final — launch this spring.
An Israeli-built moon lander aiming to become the first privately-funded mission reach another planetary body rocketed away from Cape Canaveral on Thursday night aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, riding piggyback with an Indonesian communications spacecraft and an experimental U.S. Air Force space surveillance microsatellite.
The Beresheet moon lander will attempt to become the first privately-funded spacecraft to reach the moon, and these photos show the robotic probe’s journey through testing inside a clean room at Israel Aerospace Industries, followed by its attachment to a multi-satellite stack for launch on a Falcon 9 rocket.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 8:45 p.m. EST Thursday (0145 GMT Friday) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The commercial launcher, featuring a reused first stage booster flying for the third time, hauled into orbit Indonesia’s Nusantara Satu communications satellite, the Beresheet lunar lander for SpaceIL, and the S5 space surveillance payload for the Air Force Research Laboratory.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket sporting human-rating upgrades such as new composite pressurant tanks briefly ignited its nine Merlin engines Thursday afternoon on a launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and SpaceX later declared the pre-launch milestone complete in preparation for a critical test flight with a commercial crew capsule as soon as late February.