Israeli spacecraft set for historic moon landing in coming months

Screen capture from video of a press conference displaying the SpaceIL moon craft

Screen capture from video of a press conference displaying the SpaceIL moon craft

News Brief: SpaceIL, an Israeli team that was once a competitor in the now-defunct Google Lunar X Prize, says it will have its lander launched toward the moon in December. In November the spacecraft will be sent to Cape Canaveral to ready it for the launch in December.

"After eight challenging years, I am filled with pride that the first Israeli spacecraft, which is in its final construction and testing phases, will soon be making its way to the moon", Kahn said. The spacecraft will orbit the Moon for nearly two months before landing, where it will record and send video and conduct some small science observations using a magnetometer. The victor was expected to earn a prize of 20 million dollars to fund the landing of the first non-governmental unmanned spacecraft on the moon.

In total, the project has cost around $95 million to date, with much of this covered by South African-born Israeli billionaire and entrepreneur Morris Kahn.

Although the Google contest was eventually scrapped in March 2018 after none of the teams managed to launch their probes before the deadline, the SpaceIL group continued with its project, thanks to the support of its donors.

Along with Kahn, the Israeli Space Agency and USA megadonor casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson are funding SpaceIL.

About it reports Reuters with a reference to the Executive Director SpaceIL IDO Anteby.

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The entire journey, from launch to landing, will last approximately two months.

SpaceIL CEO Ido Anteby said that the spacecraft is the smallest to ever land on the moon.

So far, only the US, Russia and China have landed spacecrafts on the moon. "And this is going to be the first privately run mission to the Moon".

It is hoped that the mission will demonstrate that a spacecraft can be sent to the moon at low cost while inspiring scientific curiosity among young Israelis, much like the 1969 moon landing did in the United States. This will take about two days to finish.

The unmanned mission is a joint effort between private company Israel Aerospace Industries and nonprofit organization SpaceIL. 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.

SpaceIL was the only Israeli contestant in the worldwide Google Lunar XPRIZE competition. 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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