Light trail from the Falcon 9 rocket carrying the lunar lander into space from Cape Canaveral on Feb. 21, 2019. Photo: SpaceX

The first privately built lunar lander, a vehicle made in Israel, is on its way to the moon. It successfully deployed after launching at 8:45 p.m. Thursday off Cape Canaveral on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and is expected to land on the moon's surface in April.

Why it matters: Along with the U.S., the former Soviet Union and China were, until tonight, the only countries to successfully land spacecraft on the lunar surface. Axios' Andrew Freedman notes that this lander — named Beresheet, meaning "in the beginning" in Hebrew — is the first to be entirely financed and built by the private-sector. It demonstrates that the public-private space race is on, with the moon in many companies' and countries' sights.

NASA Administrator James Bridenstine issued the following statement:

"Congratulations to SpaceIL and the Israel Space Agency. This is a historic step for all nations and commercial space as we look to extend our collaborations beyond low-Earth orbit and on to the Moon.
"In July, I was in Israel and was very impressed with their commitment to expanding their role in the world’s space community. As we better understand Israel’s capabilities and the innovative work of their private industry, we know they’ll be an even stronger international partner in the future, one vital to the success of extending commercial space to the Moon and eventually on to Mars and beyond. There are terrific opportunities awaiting Israel and all of us in advancing the space frontier."

Go deeper: Read Axios' special report on the space race

Go deeper

8 mins ago - World

Europe faces "stronger and deadlier" coronavirus wave

Paris under curfew. Photo: Kiran Ridley/Getty Images

The coronavirus is still winning: Now even Germany is entering another national lockdown, joined by France.

Why it matters: France has been "overpowered by a second wave,” President Emmanuel Macron said in a nationally televised address today. Macron said the "new wave will be stronger and deadlier" than the first.

Stocks close down more than 3%

Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld via Getty Images

Stocks took a hit on Wednesday, with the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrials Average and Nasdaq dropping more than 3% across the board.

Why it matters: The volatility is a break from the stock market grinding higher in the face of spiking coronavirus cases, a stalling economy and gridlocked negotiations over an additional stimulus package.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!