Published: Fri, July 13, 2018
Sci-tech | By Brandy Patterson

Israel announces mission to land spacecraft on the Moon

Israel announces mission to land spacecraft on the Moon

Israeli space exploration firm SpaceIL, together with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), will launch a spacecraft into orbit via a SpaceX rocket in December, which they intend to land on the moon in February 2019.

"What we're doing is we're trying to replicate the Apollo effect in the United States", Kahn told reporters, referring to the surge in interest in science and engineering after the USA space program landed on the moon in 1969.

The IAI-built spacecraft, which was build in 2013, will be transferred to the United States in November, ahead of the launch.

SpaceIL plans to have Israel be the fourth country in the world to launch their spacecraft to the moon.

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"Our mission was never about winning the prize money - although $20 million would have been nice", said SpaceIL CEO Ido Anteby.

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. Its maximum speed will reach more than 10 kilometers per second (36,000 kilometers, or almost 22,370 miles, per hour).

Its first task, however, will be to plant an Israeli flag on the moon, organisers said. It will separate from the rocket at 37,000 miles above the Earth and enter an elliptical orbit and slowly expand until it's captured by lunar gravity.

The research, conducted in cooperation with scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, will use a magnetometer on the spacecraft to attempt to understand how the rocks on the moon received their magnetism. Its two-month journey will start from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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A group of private Israeli companies are joining the race to return to the moon, after NASA's recent cancellation of a lunar mission and India's announcement that in October it will send a rover to look for signs of water and nuclear fuel. This will take about two days to finish.

The competition, however, ended with no victor on March 31, when Google announced that it would no longer sponsor it.

Nevertheless, after raising enough funds, SpaceIL determined to continue its mission.

SpaceIL aims to set in motion an "Apollo effect" in Israel: To encourage the next generation of Israeli children to choose to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); to change their perception of these subjects; to generate a sense of capability; and to allow them to dream big dreams even in their small country.

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