Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Israeli company plans lunar landing next year

Moon landing SpaceIL lunar probe SPACEIL GETTYMoon landing SpaceIL's lunar probe will launch by the end of the year
Cary Marshall | 11 July, 2018, 11:35

State-run Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. and non-profit SpaceIL announced plans to launch a lunar mission in December, putting Israel on track to become the fourth country to land on the moon.

Approximately $88 million were invested in the spacecraft's development and construction, mostly from private donors, headed by SpaceIL President Mr. Morris Kahn, who donated about $27 million.

It will be launched via a rocket from American entrepreneur Elon Musk's SpaceX firm and its mission will include research on the moon's magnetic field. "Projects like the Google Lunar XPrize competition in space are needed to push humanity forwards". The launch date is set for December; two months later, on February 13, the spacecraft is expected to land on the moon.

Josef Weiss, IAI CEO said, "As one who has personally brought the collaboration with SpaceIL to IAI, I regard the launch of the first Israeli spacecraft to the moon as an example of the wonderful capabilities one can reach in civilian-space activity".

IAI, which is the home of Israel's space activity, has been a full partner in this project from its inception. The most prominent among these are Weizmann Institute of Science; Israel Space Agency; the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space; Bezeq and others.

The 2 meter-by-1.5 meter vehicle weighs 600 kilograms (1,323 pounds), making it the smallest spacecraft yet to touch down on the moon.

The Israeli spacecraft, about the size of a dishwasher, measure about 6.6 feet in diameter and about 1.65 feet in height.

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The "smart spacecraft", developed by Israeli engineers, will be shipped to Cape Canaveral, Florida in November in preparation for the December launch.

"Our spacecraft will be the smallest ever to land on the moon", said Anteby. The data will be transmitted to the IAI control room during the two days following the landing. To win the first prize of $20 million, the participants were required to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon.

SpaceIL was the only Israeli company involved in the Google Lunar X Prize competition, which carried a £15million ($20million) victory prize until it was scrapped in March 2018 due to contestants' missed deadlines.

Along with Kahn, the Israeli Space Agency and USA megadonor casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson are funding SpaceIL.

Despite financial pitfalls in recent years that almost saw SpaceIL's spacecraft grounded permanently, the team is confident that December's launch will take place on time.

The initiative aims to raise interest in space and science among Israelis and encourage the younger generations to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics professions.

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