Animation of Beresheet in lunar orbit/Courtesy SpaceIL and IAI
Animation of Beresheet in lunar orbit/Courtesy SpaceIL and IAI

JERUSALEM, Israel – Israelis will be glued to their screens Thursday night to watch the Beresheet spacecraft land on the moon. If successful, Israel will become the fourth nation after the United States, Russia, and China to touch the moon.

Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft, which was developed by a team of scientists from SpaceIL and Israel Space Industries, is currently orbiting the moon. The spacecraft catapulted from the earth about seven weeks ago and is expected to land on the moon approximately 10:25 p.m. (3:25 p.m. ET).

On Wednesday, the SpaceIL and IAI team successfully completed the last maneuver before landing.

The maneuver lowered the spacecraft’s altitude in preparation for its landing. Beresheet is in elliptical orbit with its perilune (the closest point to the moon) only 15-17 km from the moon’s surface.

Beresheet will continue to orbit the moon in elliptical orbit every two hours until it lands.

Meanwhile, Israeli scientists spent all night Wednesday working on their last calculations before the big event. NASA is also participating in the mission…