Israeli spacecraft 'Beresheet' sends first selfie from more than 23,000 miles away

Israeli spacecraft 'Beresheet' sends first selfie from more than 23,000 miles away

Israeli spacecraft 'Beresheet' sends first selfie from more than 23,000 miles away

On its way to a lunar landing next month, the Beresheet spacecraft beamed back a photo of itself yesterday - with Earth in the background 23,364 miles away.

Ground control activated the spacecraft's main engine for four minutes, putting it into a new orbit that takes it to a distance of 131,000 kilometers from earth.

Meanwhile, Australia is clearly visible on Earth's Southern Hemisphere.

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The photo was taken a week-and-a-half after the launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The trip is scheduled to last seven weeks, with the Beresheet due to touch down on April 11.

Israel's first spacecraft launched on February 21 in a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

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A plaque displays Israel's flag with the inscriptions, "Am Israel Chai" ("the Jewish people lives") and, in English, "Small Country Big Dreams".

During its weeklong science mission, Beresheet will measure the moon's magnetic field and send back high-resolution views of its surroundings - no doubt including an Apollo-style picture of Earth looming above the lunar surface. It will be the first such space capsule to land on the moon as part of a private initiative rather than on a government-funded enterprise.

NASA, which has installed equipment on Beresheet to upload its signals from the moon, says it is inviting private sector bids to build and launch the US probes.

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