Israeli Venture to Shoot for the Moon in December

Federico Mansilla
Julio 14, 2018

Israel declared on Tuesday that it will dispatch its first moon mission in somewhere in December 2018, planning to secure a place to be the fourth nation to arrive on the moon, following Russian Federation, the US, and China. It involves a 1,300-pound lander piggybacking on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch whose primary payload is a communications satellite.

"Our mission was never about winning the prize money - although $20 million would have been nice", said SpaceIL CEO Ido Anteby.

Project managers said that the SpaceIL, an unmanned craft built by Israeli engineers, is slated to take off later this year and land on the moon on February 13 next year. SpaceIL says about $88 million has been invested in the project to date, mostly from private...

SpaceIL has continued the moon landing project to serve as a source of inspiration and as fertile ground for a long-term impact on the next generation of scientists and engineers in Israel.

If successful, Israel will become the fourth country to "soft land" on the moon, after the former Soviet Union, the United States and China.

The probe, with 6.5 feet in diameter, 4.9 feet in height and almost 1,322 pounds in weight, will be the smallest space body to reach the moon so far.

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SpaceIL is backed by a number of donors, including USA casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, the Schusterman Family Foundation and South African-born billionaire entrepreneur Morris Kahn. Its expected maximum speed could exceed 10 kilometers per second.

SpaceIL originally started this project as part of the Google Lunar XPrize, but they along with all the other competitors weren't able to make the March 31, 2018 deadline to land a craft on the moon and move it 500M once it landed.

South African-Israeli billionaire Morris Kahn, president of SpaceIL, who has donated $27 million to the enterprise, was extremely excited: "The launch of the first Israeli spacecraft will fill Israel, in its 70th year, with pride".

The spacecraft's design and development process began in 2013, two years after Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub founded SpaceIL and registered for the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition.

According to SpaceIL, once the spacecraft disengages from the launch rocket, it will begin orbiting Earth in continuously larger elliptical orbits.

Despite financial pitfalls in recent years that almost saw SpaceIL's spacecraft grounded permanently, the team is confident December's launch will take place on time.

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