Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Sci-tech | By Brandy Patterson

First Israeli spacecraft to land on moon next year

If the module reaches the moon as expected on February 13, 2019, it will make history as the smallest and first privately funded unmanned spacecraft to land on the moon.

The lunar landing will culminate eight years of intensive collaboration between SpaceIL and IAI, and will make Israel the fourth country after the U.S., China and Russian Federation to reach the moon.

A Falcon 9 rocket built by SpaceX will carry the craft to the moon from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on February 13, 2019. SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries have raised $88 million so far, CNET reports.

SpaceIL's project began as part of the Google Lunar XPrize, which offered $30m (£23m) in prizes to inspire people to develop low-priced methods of robotic space exploration.

(R - L) Head of IAI's space division, Head of IAI's space division, Ofer Doron, SpaceIL CEO Dr. Ido Anteby, president of the non-profit organization SpaceIL Morris Kahn, Space IL founder Kfir Damari, SpaceIL founder Yariv Bash, and Aviad Shmaryahu of the Israel Space Agency.

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

The project took eight years of collaborative efforts.

IAI, which is the home of Israel's space activity, has been a full partner in this project from its inception.

But SpaceIL has continued to work on its moon mission.

SpaceIL's spacecraft is not only small-it measures 2 meters-by-1.5 meters and weighs 600 kilograms (1,323 pounds)-but also significantly less expensive than those usually launched into deep space. It has only two meters in diameter and is half a meter high.

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At 60,000 kilometers (37,000 miles) above Earth the spacecraft will deploy.

According to SpaceIL, once the spacecraft disengages from the launch rocket, it will begin orbiting Earth in continuously larger elliptical orbits. He explained that SpaceIL will test the spacecraft through October, and in November, the company will deliver it to the Cape Canaveral launch site in Florida.

Once it touches down on the moon, the spacecraft will use its cameras to take photos and video of the lunar surface. The data will be transmitted to the IAI control room during the two days following the landing.

The project culminated in the design of an Israeli lunar probe, which SpaceIL claimed would launch regardless of the contest's outcome. But the SpaceIL team hopes that putting an Israeli-made module on the moon could help maintain Israel's technological momentum for years to come. However, the competition ended with no victor at the end of March, but the competition for the $30 million in cash prize continues, even without the cash.

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