Israel Plans Its First Moon Launch in December

Israel Plans Its First Moon Launch in December

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Israel hopes to become the fourth country to land on the moon after the United States, Russia, and China. The plan is for the lunar spacecraft to land on the moon on Feb. 13, 2019, after a two-month journey from Earth. If all goes well, the SpaceIL spider-like craft will give Israel entry into the exclusive club of just three nations that have so far achieved a controlled landing on the moon’s surface.

The unmanned mission is a collaboration between privately owned Israel Aerospace Industries and the non-profit organization SpaceIL, which participated in the Google Lunar XPrize competition that ended in March with no ultimate winner. The project took eight years of collaborative efforts. Building the spacecraft cost $95 million to date.

SpaceIL CEO Ido Anteby said thatthe spacecraft is the smallest to ever land on the moon. It measures about 2 meters in diameter and stands just a meter and a half high. The spacecraft will weigh 585 kilograms at launch but will land on the lunar surface with only 180 kilos” and further added, “As soon as the spacecraft reaches the landing point it will be completely autonomous.

The vessel will be launched via a rocket from American entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX firm and its mission will include research on the moon’s magnetic field. Its first task, however, will be to plant an Israeli flag on the moon, organizers said. Three young Israeli scientists, Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub, decided to join the fray.

A key figure to hop on board the project was Morris Kahn, a South African-born Israeli billionaire, who heard SpaceIL present their project. Yossi Weiss, the CEO of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), said conquering space is not just a way to prove technological prowess, but also an increasingly urgent need for a human race rapidly dilapidating its resources. Weiss said, we need to think about backup plans, Earth is becoming small and ultimately the future of humanity is in space.

The relatively lean Israeli project, which was not initiated or funded by the state, could also mark a change in the way space-related projects are construed and performed, paving the way for more private initiatives. Humanity is looking for ways to make it easier to get to the moon and other planets and this mission paves the way for that.