Israeli Company Plans Lunar Landing Next Year

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

A final launch date will be announced closer to the event.

SpaceIL explained: "While the other Google Lunar X Prize teams developed large rovers to move the required 500 meters on the Moon's surface, in order to conserve mass, SpaceIL developed the idea of a space hop: to have the spacecraft land and then take off again with the fuel left in its propulsion system, and then perform another landing 500 meters away".

It will be launched via a rocket from Elon Musk's SpaceX firm this December, and it's expected to land on the moon on February 13, 2019.

"The launch of the first Israeli spacecraft will fill Israel, in its 70th year, with pride", said SpaceIL President Morris Kahn.

Four other teams are still competing against SpaceIL for the honour of winning the Google Lunar XPrize - Moon Express from the US, Team Indus from India, Hakuto from Japan, and Synergy Moon, an global group.

Josef Weiss, IAI CEO said, "As one who has personally brought the collaboration with SpaceIL to IAI, I regard the launch of the first Israeli spacecraft to the moon as an example of the wonderful capabilities one can reach in civilian-space activity".

Kahn said it would be "a tremendous achievement".

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IAI, which is the home of Israel's space activity, has been a full partner in this project from its inception.

The craft will also carry out an experiment for the Weizmann Institute of Science to measure the moon's magnetic field. Construction of the spacecraft began two years later in facilities provided by Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd.

The spacecraft, which weighs only about 600 kilograms, is considered the smallest to land on the moon.

It is measured to be four-feet high, and 6 ½-feet in diameter, and it will be able to reach a maximum speed of 22,370 miles per hour. If it passes, it will head into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida, as a secondary payload along with satellites on a SpaceX rocket.

The SpaceIL non-profit organization, which has been developing an unmanned spacecraft for landing on the Moon, today announced at a press conference that it would conducting the launch in December 2018. The data will be transmitted to the IAI control room during the two days following the landing. SpaceIL participated in the Google Lunar XPrize competition, which wrapped up earlier this year with no ultimate victor.

The entire endeavour began roughly seven years ago when SpaceIL joined a Google technology contest to land a small, unmanned probed on the moon.

The opportunity to win $30 million through the competition ended in March, but now continues without a cash prize.

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