Israel’s Beresheet space probe successfully carried out another manoeuvre around the moon as it prepares to descend on the moon surface later this week, the mission team said on Monday.
“The manoeuvre, which lasted 36 seconds and burned 6 kilogrammes of fuel, lowered the orbit of the Beresheet to an altitude range of 211 to 467 kilometres,’’ the mission team said.
The washing-machine sized spacecraft is set to land on the moon on Thursday. If it succeeds it will be the first lunar mission by a non-governmental organisation to Earth’s closest neighbour.
The Beresheet, which means Genesis in Hebrew, also would be the smallest spacecraft ever to reach the moon.
Israel would become the fourth country after the U.S., the Soviet Union and China to make a soft landing on the moon.
The probe, weighing just under 600 kilogrammes and measuring 1.5 metres in height, is to place an Israeli flag on the moon and examine its magnetic field.
Its launch in February was the fruit of an eight-year-long project undertaken by the SpaceIL non-profit organisation and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
Although the IAI is a governmental organisation, the funds for the mission were largely raised independently.