Published: Fri, July 13, 2018
Science | By Michele Flores

Israel Launching Moon Mission This December

Israel Launching Moon Mission This December

Aerospace Industries Ltd. (which is run by the Israeli government) and the nonprofit SpaceIL are behind the plan to land an unmanned probe on the moon by February.

The project culminated in the design of an Israeli lunar probe, which SpaceIL claimed would launch regardless of the contest's outcome. "When the rocket is launched into space, we will all remember where we were when Israel landed on the moon." .

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

Israeli billionaire and investor Morris Kahn (left) answers journalists' questions in front of a Israeli Aerospace Industries spacecraft during a news conference Tuesday to announce its launch to the moon, in Yehud, Eastern Tel Aviv.

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

SpaceIL participated in the Google Lunar XPrize competition, which wrapped up earlier this year with no ultimate victor.

The SpaceIL craft is 1.5 meters (five feet) high and two meters in diameter, able to reach a maximum speed of more than 10 kilometers (6 miles) per second. It involves a 1,300-pound lander piggybacking on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch whose primary payload is a communications satellite. It will begin orbiting Earth on an elliptical path. If it does manage to reach the Moon, it will be the smallest craft to make a touchdown there.

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First landing on the Moon was performed by USSR back to the 1959.

Built by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the lander, which looks like a large spider, is created to land on the Moon. Its two-month journey will start from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Only then it will embark on its scientific mission, and will begin to take photos and videos of the landing site, and measure the moon's magnetic field.

On the moon, the vessel will transmit data to the control centre at IAI for two days before its systems shut down. However, the competition ended with no victor at the end of March, but the competition for the $30 million in cash prize continues, even without the cash.

SpaceIL aims to set in motion an "Apollo effect" in Israel: To encourage the next generation of Israeli children to choose to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); to change their perception of these subjects; to generate a sense of capability; and to allow them to dream big dreams even in their small country.

It might be a privately funded mission, but SpaceIL could be a national effort looking to raise interest in space travel throughout Israel.

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