Published: Fri, July 13, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Plan to land Israeli spacecraft on moon

Plan to land Israeli spacecraft on moon

Israel hopes to be the fourth when it launches a spacecraft this December with an assist from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

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.

SpaceIL was founded in 2011 by a group of engineers with a budget of about $90 million and they had to sacrifice size and operational capabilities for more efficient travel. The team says it will be the smallest spacecraft to land on the moon.

"Our mission was never about winning the prize money - although $20 million would have been nice", said SpaceIL CEO Ido Anteby. SpaceIL's president, Morris Kahn, has provided about $27 million.

The project began as part of the Google Lunar XPrize, which offered $30 million (25 million euros) in prizes to encourage scientists and entrepreneurs to come up with relatively low-priced moon missions. The spacecraft has 2 meters diameter with a height of about 1.5 meters and its image has been unveiled on SpaceIL's official Twitter page.

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

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So far, only the US, Russia and China have landed spacecrafts 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". Unlike bigger spacecraft that took four days to reach the moon, the smaller fuel capacity means SpaceIL must take an indirect way, orbiting the Earth to reach the moon, SpaceIL said. The State of Israel, which is already firmly planted in the realm of space in its military activity, must harness resources for the benefit of civilian space, which is an engine of innovation, technology, education and groundbreaking around the world.

Israel Aerospace Industries, the country's prime aerospace and aviation manufacturer, has been a full partner in this project since its inception, along with other partners from the private sector, the government companies and the academia.

If successful, it will be the smallest probe to ever land on the moon, Anteby said, while also being the first privately funded unmanned spacecraft to achieve this goal.

The Google prize expired in March without a victor having reached the moon, but Israel's team pledged to push forward. This way, they will raise interest in space among the people in Israel, and will also encourage young generations to study STEM.

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