Israel To Land First Spacecraft On Moon In 2019

Moon landing SpaceIL lunar probe

SpaceIL and the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries plan to launch their unmanned craft in December hoping to become the first non-governmental entity to land a spacecraft on the moon. If successful, Israel would become the fourth country to land a craft on the moon, after the US, the Soviet Union and China. Kahn said if they pull off the moonshot it would be "a tremendous achievement".

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. This process will be executed autonomously by the spacecraft's navigation control system.

The aim of the mission is not only to put an Israeli spacecraft on the moon, but to inspire a future generation of Israelis to pursue careers in math, science and engineering, said Joseph Weiss, IAI's president and chief executive. Astronauts shall be sent to the Moon by China in 2036 and Russian Federation have plans to send cosmonauts to the Moon.

SpaceIL's spacecraft will be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. At launch it will weigh roughly 1,300 pounds, although more than 880 pounds of that is fuel, which will be burned off before it reaches its final destination.

In total the project has cost some $95 million.

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First landing on the Moon was performed by USSR back to the 1959. SpaceIL President Morris Kahn has donated about $27 million to the effort and chose to proceed even after the contest deadline passed and effectively ended without any finalists achieving the goal.

Four other teams are still competing against SpaceIL for the honour of winning the Google Lunar XPrize - Moon Express from the US, Team Indus from India, Hakuto from Japan, and Synergy Moon, an worldwide group.

The spacecraft, carrying the Israeli flag, will take photos and videos of the landing site and measure the moon's magnetic field as part of a scientific experiment. This will take about two days to finish.

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.

A goal of the mission is to spark interest in space among young Israelis. Google Lunar prize was intended as reward for the first commercial organization which will land a spacecraft on the Moon. With the help of a broad network of volunteers, SpaceIL has already made presentations to about 900,000 children nationwide.

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