Published: Fri, July 13, 2018
Science | By

Israel to land first spacecraft on moon in 2019

Israel to land first spacecraft on moon in 2019

"We have a launch and landing dates!" SpaceIL's president, Morris Kahn, has provided about $27 million.

The first Israeli lunar spacecraft is to be launched in December from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

If successful, Israel would become the fourth country to land a craft on the moon, after the USA, the Soviet Union and China.

A Falcon 9 rocket built by SpaceX will carry the craft to the moon from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on February 13, 2019.

The Israeli spacecraft would be the lightest ever to land on the moon, weighing only 1,322 lbs.

The project of the Israeli lunar spacecraft took eight years at a cost of around 88 million US dollars.

The Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL company plans to send to the moon unmanned spacecraft at the end of December. "I have experienced numerous challenges in my life, but this was the greatest challenge of all".

The only entities to have conducted controlled landings on the Moon are the governments of the former Soviet Union, the United States, and China. The company undertook to launch its spacecraft this year, and has now announced its timetable for doing so.

Another goal of the mission is to discover the magnetic mysteries of moon rocks, officials said.

"Reaching such an achievement specifically during Israel's 70th year symbolizes how far we have come, and particularly the endless accomplishments that we can still achieve".

SpaceIL was founded in 2011 by three engineers: Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari, and Yonatan Winetraub.

Private donations mostly paid for the project, including from the American businessman and Jewish philanthropist Sheldon Adelson.

IAI has been a full partner in the project from its inception.

SpaceIL will ship the as yet unnamed module to the United States in November ahead of the launch.

Although the Google contest was eventually scrapped in March 2018 after none of the teams managed to launch their probes before the deadline, the SpaceIL group continued with its project, thanks to the support of its donors. It measures about 2 meters in diameter and stands just a meter and a half high. Its maximum speed will reach more than 10 km per second.

At 60,000 kilometers (37,000 miles) above Earth the spacecraft will deploy. This process will be executed autonomously by the spacecraft's navigation control system. It will orbit Earth in expanding ellipses and, about two months later, cross into the moon's orbit.

Organizers said that the spacecraft carrying the Israeli flag will take photos and videos of the landing site as well as record itself during the landing. This will take about two days to finish.

SpaceIL launched in 2011 when engineers Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub partnered to compete in the Google Lunar XPRIZE-an worldwide competition to put a small, mobile craft on the moon. To win the first prize of $20 million, the participants were required to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon.

Although the Google prize expired in March without a victor having reached the moon, Israel's team pledged to push forward.

It might be a privately funded mission, but SpaceIL could be a national effort looking to raise interest in space travel throughout Israel. The non-profit aims to change the discourse in Israel and to encourage boys and girls to regard science, engineering, technology and math as exciting opportunities for their future. With the help of a broad network of volunteers, SpaceIL has already made presentations to about 900,000 children nationwide.

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