First Israeli spacecraft to land on moon next year
First Israeli spacecraft to land on moon next year
12 July, 2018, 13:31
The entire endeavour began roughly seven years ago when SpaceIL joined a Google technology contest to land a small, unmanned probed on the moon.
Since 1966, the United States and the former Soviet Union have put around 12 unmanned spacecraft on the moon using braking power to perform "soft" landings and China did so in 2013.
The dainty spacecraft is just about 5 feet (1.5 meters) high and weighs 1,322 pounds (600 kilograms).
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 spaceship will be sent to the Cape Canaveral in the U.S. for its launch a month before that and is scheduled to land on the Moon on February 13, 2019.
Initially, this plan was part of a competition that Google set up called the Lunar XPrize.
(R - L) Head of IAI's space division, Head of IAI's space division, Ofer Doron, SpaceIL CEO Dr. Ido Anteby, president of the non-profit organization SpaceIL Morris Kahn, Space IL founder Kfir Damari, SpaceIL founder Yariv Bash, and Aviad Shmaryahu of the Israel Space Agency.
"Our spacecraft will be the smallest ever to land on the moon", said Anteby. SpaceIL was the first of 16 Google Lunar XPRIZE competitors to sign a launch contract and one of only five teams to reach the finals. The prize would have given $30 million to the team that developed a low-priced method of robotic space exploration.
SpaceIL President Morris Kahn has donated about $27 million to the effort and made a decision to proceed even after the contest deadline passed and effectively ended without any finalists achieving the goal. The spacecraft has four carbon fiber legs and fuel takes up two-thirds of its weight.
After succeeding in raising the critical funds to continue its activity, SpaceIL announced that it was determined to continue on its mission and to launch its spacecraft by the end of the year, regardless of the competition.
"We have a launch and landing dates!"
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.
The program has always had STEM education as a secondary goal, aiming to encourage Israeli children to choose to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The other goal is to give birth to an "Apollo Effect" in Israel, mirroring the United States enthusiasm that encouraged scientists to continue their research after the Apollo Moon landing in 1969.
A goal of the mission is to spark interest in space among young Israelis.
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