Israel's first moon mission spacecraft snaps Earth 'selfie'

The Beresheet spacecraft on its mission to the moon produces a selfie

The spacecraft beamed the image back to mission control in Yehud, Israel from 37,600km away.

The lander is the brainchild of three Israeli engineers running a nonprofit company SpaceIL partnered with Israel Aerospace Industries.

The 585-kilogram (1,290-pound) craft took off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from the private USA -based SpaceX company of entrepreneur Elon Musk.

The spacecraft is shooting for a moon landing April 11.

In about two days, Beresheet is expected to undertake an additional maneuver as part of its journey to the moon at the furthest part of its orbit, when it is 270,000 kilometers from Earth. The photo was made possible due to the process of a slow spin of the spacecraft, before it will be pulled by the gravitational force of the Moon and the landing process is to begin.

It is also carrying a time capsule loaded with digital files including a 30 million page archive of human history and civilisation, a Bible, an Israeli flag and the account of a holocaust survivor.

Israel joins Russian Federation, the United States and China in their missions to the moon. It aims to put a craft with a rover onto the moon's surface to collect data.

As for the Americans, who have not been back to the moon since 1972, a return is now the official policy of NASA, according to guidelines issued by President Donald Trump in 2017.

The project originally launched as an effort to win the Google Lunar XPRIZE, which called for building, launching and landing an unmanned spacecraft on the moon. Japan, the European Space Agency and India have all crash-landed probes on the moon.

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