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WATCH: Israel’s Beresheet Lunar Lander Snaps Stunning Pics of Far Side of the Moon

DEBORAH DANAN

TEL AVIV – Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft finally entered lunar orbit over the weekend, and the SpaceIL team celebrated by releasing jaw-dropping photographs captured by the spacecraft of the far side of the moon.

The images were taken about 470 km (292 miles) above the moon. Israel is the seventh nation in the world to successfully enter the moon’s orbit. Doing so entails a complicated maneuver in which the spacecraft must hop from earth’s orbit to the moon’s — as seen below in a demonstration video released by SpaceIL.

With four days left until the April 11 landing date, SpaceIL‘s engineers are attempting a series of maneuvers to transform Beresheet’s elliptical orbit into a circular orbit 200 kilometers (125 miles) from the surface of the moon.

The team are hoping the lander will touch down near Mare Serenitatis, or the Sea of Serenity, which is on the near side of the moon.

Beresheet needed to decelerate from 8,500 kilometers per hour (5,280 miles per hour) to 7,500 kilometers per hour (4,660 miles per hour) in order to successfully enter lunar orbit.

Of the seven nations that have entered the moon’s orbit, only the U.S., Russia and China succeeded in landing on the moon. The others lost control and crashed on the moon’s surface.

If the April 11 landing goes smoothly, it will mark the first privately-funded moon-landing.

“There is a significant chance we have a crash landing,” said Opher Doron, the space division general manager at Israel Aerospace Industries. “It’s very dangerous, and it’s difficult to predict if we’ll succeed.”

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