Israel to launch its first spacecraft to the moon

SpaceIL and the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries plan to launch their unmanned craft in December in the hope to be the first non-governmental entity to land a spacecraft on the moon.

(Eliran Avital)

Israel announced Tuesday the launch of its first moon mission in December 2018, in the hope to become the fourth country to land on the moon, after the US, Russia and China.

SpaceIL and the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries presented the new spacecraft, which took eight years from the collaboration, and $95 million to build the smallest plane to date.

It is measured up to four meters high and 6 ½ – feet in diameter, and reaches a maximum speed of 22,370 miles per hour.

South-African-Israeli billionaire Morris Kahn, chairman of SpaceIL, who has donated $27 million for the company, was very enthusiastic: “with The launch of the first Israeli spacecraft will fill with Israel, in his 70th year, with pride. It is a national achievement that will put us on the world space map.”

The project started out as young engineers — Yariv Bash, made version Damari and Yonatan Winetraub — decided to build a spaceship and take part in the Lunar Xprize contest sponsored by Google, originally a $ 20 million prize for the first group of participants on the basis of an unmanned spacecraft on the moon.

Her first task will be to plant an Israeli flag on the moon, the organizers said.

Only then it will begin its scientific mission, and will begin to see photos and videos of the landing, and the measure of the moon from the magnetic field.

The research, carried out in collaboration with scientists of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, will use a magnetometer on the spacecraft to try to understand how the stones on the moon to receive their magnetism.

Joseph Weiss, IAI’s CEO said, “As someone who personally brought the collaboration with SpaceIL to IAI, I consider the launch of the first Israeli spacecraft to the moon as an example of the amazing possibilities one can achieve in the civil space activity. The State of Israel, which is already firmly in the realm of space, in the military activity, it should harness resources for the benefit of the civilian space, which is an engine of innovation, technology, education, and groundbreaking all over the world.”

It will be launched via a rocket from Elon Musk’s SpaceX company in December, and it is expected to land on the moon on February 13, 2019.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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