Science

SpaceIL to launch unmanned Moon probe in December

SpaceIL to launch unmanned Moon probe in December

Israel announced on Tuesday that it will launch its first lunar mission in December, with the hopes of becoming the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the moon in February 2019. In November the spacecraft will be sent to Cape Canaveral to ready it for the launch in December.

At this point, the lander will ignite its engines to enter a phase of orbiting the moon prior to attempting a lunar touchdown.

If the module reaches the moon as expected on February 13, 2019, it will make history as the smallest and first privately funded unmanned spacecraft to land on the moon.

SpaceIL and the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries presented the new spacecraft, which took eight years of collaborative efforts, and $95 million to build the smallest aircraft to date.

SpaceIL was founded in 2011 by a group of engineers with a budget of about $90 million and they had to sacrifice size and operational capabilities for more efficient travel.

Along with Kahn, the Israeli Space Agency and US megadonor casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson are funding SpaceIL. The spacecraft will weigh 585 kilograms at launch but will land on the lunar surface with only 180 kilos.

Although the Google prize expired in March without a victor having reached the moon, Israel's team pledged to push forward.




Ofer Doron, head of IAI's space division, said Israel was "going to show the way for the rest of the world" to send a spacecraft to the Moon at a reasonable cost.

Speaking at press conference, SpaceIL's CEO Ido Anteby said his country's flag will be planted on the moon.

Only three countries have made soft landings of craft on the moon - Russia, the United States, and China.

The mission was started seven years ago, notes the report, as part of Google's Lunar X-prize competition. It will then begin orbiting the moon, until the appropriate time to begin the landing process.

The lunar spacecraft will be the smallest to land on the moon, weighing only 600 kg, and measuring 1.5 meters high and 2 meters in diameter. The data will be transmitted to the IAI control room during the two days following the landing. The non-profit aims to change the discourse in Israel and to encourage boys and girls to regard science, engineering, technology and math as exciting opportunities for their future.

But SpaceIL has continued to work on its moon mission. In recent years, SpaceIL has ignited the imagination of about 900,000 children nationwide, with the help of a broad network of volunteers.


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