The Israeli spacecraft's route
The Israeli spacecraft's routeSpaceIL

The first Israeli spacecraft carried out a successful maneuver Thursday afternoon, despite early malfunctions and complications caused by a faulty star tracker navigational system.

According to a statement by SpaceIL, the private Israeli company which designed and built Beresheet, the lunar lander spacecraft successfully executed the maneuver at 3:11 p.m. Israel time – despite ongoing problems with the spacecraft’s star tracker navigation system.

“Today at 3:11 p.m. (Israel time), a maneuver of the Beresheet spacecraft was successfully carried out by the ground team of SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries. The Beresheet spacecraft is on its way towards an elliptical orbit, which has a maximum distance of 270,000 kilometers (167,770 miles) from the Earth.”

“The maneuver was complicated due to the need to deal with the constraints of the star trackers, but was successfully carried out according to plan. During the maneuver Beresheet's main engine was activated for 152 seconds.”

“The next maneuver is planned to take place in roughly two weeks.”

Launched from Cape Canaveral on February 21st, the washing machine-sized spacecraft is Israel’s first lunar lander. The unmanned vehicle is expected to land on the moon in April.

Shortly after launch, however, the ground team encountered technical problems with Beresheet, including a malfunctioning star tracker, and a glitch in the computer system which caused the craft to reset itself – missing a scheduled maneuver.

Since then, however, the SpaceIL and IAI teams say the spacecraft appears to be able to complete necessary maneuvers, despite the ongoing problems with the star tracker system.