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The latter, called Beresheet, will spend two months traveling to the moon, after which it'll beam back images and video from the lunar surface - a first for a privately built spacecraft. SpaceX is known for its reusable rockets and recovered the first stage again after Thursday night's launch.

People watch the launch of Israel's spacecraft Beresheet at the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) in Israel's central town of Yahud on February 22, 2019.

Once it lands on the moon, the spacecraft carrying the Israeli flag will begin taking photographs of the landing site and a selfie to prove that it has indeed landed on the moon. This method of getting to the lunar surface is slow, but it is also the most fuel efficient. The probe ended its "ride share" on SpaceX after 38 minutes and, if all goes according to plan, will land in the Sea of Tranquility on April 11, the project's leaders said several days before the launch.

Antebi says SpaceIL wants to show that a small country, with a small budget can join the prestigious moon landing club of the US, Russia, and China.

Putin warns U.S. with new missiles aimed at Western capitals
He said it will not only target the host countries, but field new weapons that will target United States decision-making centres.

Despite the financial troubles that prevented it from making the Xprize deadline, SpaceIL found more funding and is continuing the mission without the promise of a $20 million prize. However, the competition was canceled in January 2018 when it became clear that none of the contestants would reach the moon by the specified deadline.

The launch is the start of the Nusantara Satu mission for SpaceX involving an Indonesian communications satellite. The robotic lander, dubbed Beresheet (which means "Genesis" or "in the beginning" in Hebrew) lifted off at 8:45 pm EST on top of a Falcon 9 rocket. Its first spaceship designed for a moon landing is set to take off later this evening from Florida. It is also the first private rather than government effort with funds coming from private donors including Morris Kahn and Sheldon and Miriam Adelson. The Beresheet was launched for Israel and if successful will make Israel the fourth country to land on the moon.

Other partners are IAI, Israel's space agency its Ministry of Science and Technology. Chang'e 4, as well as the suspended moon vehicle Jadehase 2 to collect data. So far, this was only the United States, the Soviet Union and China. President Reuven Rivlin hosted a pajama party with schoolchildren, hoping the lunar mission will galvanize science education in Israel the way the Apollo space program did in the US decades earlier.