SpaceX rocket launched carrying Israel's first lunar lander


A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying Israel’s first spacecraft designed to land on the moon is prepared for launch on the first privately-funded lunar mission at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) – A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Florida on Thursday night carrying Israel’s first lunar lander on a mission that if successful will make the Jewish state only the fourth nation to ever to achieve a controlled touchdown on the moon’s surface.

The unmanned robotic lander dubbed Beresheet – Hebrew for the biblical phrase “in the beginning” – soared into space from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at about 8:45 p.m. EST (0145 GMT Friday) atop the 23-story-tall rocket.

Reporting by Joey Roulette at Cape Canaveral; Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Sandra Maler

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