With its first mission on moon, Israel all set to join elite lunar club

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CAPE CANAVERAL: Israel`s first spacecraft built to land on the moon was set for launch on Thursday from Florida on a mission that, if successful, would make the Jewish state only the fourth nation to achieve a controlled touchdown on the lunar surface.

The unmanned robotic lander dubbed Beresheet – Hebrew for the biblical phrase “in the beginning” – was due for liftoff at 8:45 p.m. EST (0145 GMT Friday) atop a Falcon 9 rocket launched by California-based entrepreneur Elon Musk`s SpaceX company from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

If all goes according to plan, Beresheet, about the size of a dishwasher, will arrive on the near-side of the moon in mid-April following a two-month journey through 4 million miles (6.5 million km) of space. A flight path directly from the Earth to the moon would cover roughly 240,000 miles (386,242 km).

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