It has been 48 days since the Beresheet spacecraft launched on a Falcon 9 rocket and began a spiraling series of orbits to raise itself toward the Moon. Last week, the 180kg vehicle fired its engines to enter into lunar orbit, and now the time has come for it to attempt a soft landing on the Moon.
No private company has ever achieved what SpaceIL, a private group organized in Israel to win the now defunct Google Lunar XPrize, is attempting. At 3:05pm EDT Thursday (19:05 UTC), the Beresheet vehicle will begin the landing process that will set it down at Mare Serenitatis (the “Sea of Serenity”), about 30 degrees north of the lunar equator. The actual landing should come about 20 minutes later.