efe-epaJerusalem

Israel's lunar lander has successfully entered the Moon's orbit on Thursday and is set to land on the surface within a week.

The so-called "Lunar Capture" operation, the most critical maneuver in the mission, slowed the Beresheet spacecraft from 8,500kph to 7,500kph.

The lander is now orbiting the Moon, according to SpaceIL and the state-run Israel Aerospace Industry, which are in charge of the expedition.

"I'm very excited, this is really a very critical moment for us," SpaceIL Chairman, Morris Kahn, said during a press conference.

"The fact that we've got to where we've got is really a miracle."

The 1.5-meter long unmanned spaceship, which weighs 585 kg, entered an elliptical course around the moon, with its closest point being at 500 km and the furthest at 10,000 km, according to the promoters of the project.

"The lunar capture is a historic event in and of itself - but it also joins Israel in a seven-nation club that has entered the moon's orbit," Kahn said.

"A week from today, we'll make more history by landing on the moon, joining three superpowers who have done so. Today I am proud to be an Israeli," he added.

The organizers said the mission would have been terminated if the lunar lander had failed to enter the Moon's orbit.

The first Israeli spaceship of its kind was put into orbit on Feb. 22, the first space trip in history to be entirely funded by donations and dedicated to educational purposes.

So far, the lander has carried out seven maneuvers, used 80 kg of fuel and has covered 5.5 million km, with one million km more left.

When it lands on the moon's surface, Beresheet will measure the magnetic field of the satellite and will simultaneously send images and videos back to Earth, since it is equipped with cameras, magnetic sensors and transmitters.

It is also carrying a time capsule that contains digital archives that include the Torah, drawings by Israeli children, a copy of the Israeli national anthem and an Israeli flag as well as literature, photos and songs. EFE

lfp/ta/sdh/rb