Israel to launch its first spacecraft to the moon

Federico Mansilla
Julio 11, 2018

For the first time in its history, Israel will have a spacecraft on the moon next year, the SpaceIL corporation announced Tuesday. Israel hopes to be the fourth when it launches a spacecraft this December with an assist from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Israel announced Tuesday that it will launch its first lunar mission in December 2018, hoping to become the fourth country to land on the moon, following the U.S., Russian Federation and China.

SpaceIL will ship the as yet unnamed module to the United States in November ahead of the launch.

A Falcon 9 rocket built by SpaceX will carry the craft to the moon from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on February 13, 2019.

The probe will reportedly plant an Israeli flag on the moon, before carrying out research.

The project culminated in the design of an Israeli lunar probe, which SpaceIL claimed would launch regardless of the contest's outcome.

"This is a tremendous project", Kahn said.

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SpaceIL, a nonprofit founded in 2010, said on its website it's the only Israeli team participating in the Google Lunar XPrize competition - a competition to land the first privately-funded unmanned spacecraft on the moon.

But the $20 million competition was scrapped by the tech giant earlier this year when it became clear none of the five companies would meet a March deadline. It will take about two months for the spacecraft to reach its destination after launch.

"This project will take the aerospace industry into deep space", said Kahn, SpaceIL's main donor and president.

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 incredible capabilities one can reach in civilian-space activity".

Israel has emerged as a technological titan in recent decades, producing a profusion of high-tech companies and drawing heavy global investment.

But the SpaceIL team hopes that putting an Israeli-made module on the moon could help maintain Israel's technological momentum for years to come.

"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.

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