Israel's first spacecraft to moon sends selfie

An Israeli spacecraft on its maiden mission to the moon has sent its first selfie back to Earth, mission chiefs said on Tuesday.

The image showing part of the Beresheet spacecraft with Earth in the background was beamed to mission control in Yehud, Israel -- 37,600 kilometres (23,360 miles) away, the project's lead partners said in a statement.

The partners, NGO SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries, launched the unmanned Beresheet -- Hebrew for Genesis -- from Cape Canaveral in Florida on February 22.

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

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

So far, only Russia, the United States and China have made the 384,000-kilometre (239,000-mile) journey and landed on the moon.

The Israeli mission comes amid renewed global interest in the moon, 50 years after American astronauts first walked on its surface.

(with news agency inputs)