A rocket will take off from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Thursday night carrying Israel's Beresheet spacecraft.
The 585-kilogram (1,290-pound) Beresheet, which means "Genesis" in Hebrew, will lift off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from the private US-based SpaceX company of flamboyant entrepreneur Elon Musk.
The Israeli craft will be placed in Earth orbit, then begin a seven-week trip under its own power to reach the Moon and touch down on April 11 in a large plain.
Other partners are Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Israel's space agency, and the country's Ministry of Science and Technology.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu arrived to observe the launch of the spacecraft and said, "There are four countries that launched a spacecraft to the moon, one of them is 800 times bigger than we are, one of them 500 times bigger, and one that is a little less than that. We are a small country, but huge in achievements and in the capacity of our initiative. I hope that the spacecraft to Mars is already being planned."
President Reuven Rivlin welcomed the launching of the spacecraft Beresheet to the Moon.
“Mazal Tov, the State of Israel, you have a spacecraft. If Beresheet travels on the difficult path and lands on the Moon, Israel will be the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the Moon. It used to be imaginary, but now it's reality. A tremendous step for the state. A first-rate scientific, technological and educational project.”
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