CAL Cargo Airlines has transported the first Israeli lunar spacecraft – the SpaceIL – from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport to Orlando in Florida utlising a Boeing 747-400ERF.
The payload was carried out ahead of the launch of the SpaceX Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station next month.
CAL Cargo worked with SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and the 180-kilogram spacecraft was loaded into a special temperature-controlled, sterile shipping container, built to protect the spacecraft and ensure it arrived safely at the launch site.
After landing at Orlando International Airport, the spacecraft – named Beresheet – it was then driven to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where it will be added as a secondary payload by launch service provider Spaceflight.
It will be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket together with a geostationary communications satellite built by SSL. The launch is targeted for no earlier than mid-February.
“After eight years of hard work, our dream has come true: We finally have a spacecraft,” said SpaceIL chief executive officer, Ido Anteby . “Shipping the spacecraft to the United States is the first stage of a complicated and historic journey to the moon. This is the first of many exciting moments, as we look forward to the forthcoming launch in Cape Canaveral.”
Upon completing its lunar mission – the first in Israel’s history and the first that’s privately funded – Israel would join superpowers China, Russia and the United States in landing a spacecraft on the moon.